Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) lawyers have filed a complaint with the National Election Committee (NEC) against a lawyer who posted a video on Facebook explaining the legalities of a vote boycott.
Choung Choungy has defended many opposition officials and has himself testified for the NEC on several occasions regarding the Kingdom’s laws on voting rights.
In the video posted on July 17, Choungy says: “It is clear that those who don’t go to vote will be not guilty . . . not at all. Those fabricating news that boycotting the vote is illegal is not good. In short, they are naughty.
“There is no chapter or article which punishes those who boycott the vote. So, based on the constitution, those who boycott the vote are not guilty.”
Ministry of Justice spokesperson Kim Santepheap was quoted by Fresh News as saying that those who post fake news about the elections would be subject to prosecution and prison terms of up to two years.
Choungy could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
He posted a follow-up video, however, explaining that calls for a boycott do not constitute incitement as boycot-ting the polls is itself not a crime.
Ky Tech, a lawyer representing the CPP, said on Wednesday that he had reported Choungy to the NEC, saying that if it confirmed that the video constituted incitement, he would file a complaint with the court.
“Choungy’s action was done with the intention to block and provoke those eligible to vote to not do so. The reality is that his actions looked like he was explaining the laws … but it had the intention to prevent people from going to vote.
“Therefore, the CPP reported to the NEC to let them review his actions. If it is a crime or violates the law, we request that the NEC take action,” Tech said.
NEC spokesman Hang Puthea said on Wednesday that the case was being investigated and a decision would be made before election day.
In a similar case earlier this week, the Battambang Provincial Election Committee (PEC) said it would investigate a CPP complaint resulting from former members of the court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) in that province posting a picture of themselves on social media holding up their fingers.
The move is a reference to the “Clean Finger” boycott call by CNRP president Sam Rainsy.
On Wednesday the five in the photo were called in for questioning by the PEC, who said they would make a decision on the case on Thursday.
And in yet another case, the Battambang Provincial Election Committee (PEC) yesterday called five former CNRP officials and the CPP complainant to meet at the PEC office regarding the “Clean Finger” activities of about 30 CNRP supporters.
Soun Chamroeun, who represents the five CNRP officials, said the CPP did not withdraw the complaint, so the decision would be made on Thursday morning.
“We met with the PEC for reconciliatory talks to see if both parties can agree to drop the matter. But the CPP did not agree to withdraw the complaint. So the PEC held a public hearing on Wednesday to make a decision,” said Soun Chamroeun, one of the accused.
Chea Chiv, the former CNRP chief who posted the photo said it was not meant as incitement. He said he was just having a dinner party with friends and wanted to express their freedom as they are now normal citizens after being banned from political activity.