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Drop ‘bogus’ trials: HRW

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Former CNRP activists convicted of leading an alleged ‘insurrection’ during 2014 protests arrive at court on April 23 for an appeal hearing. Pha Lina

Drop ‘bogus’ trials: HRW

Human Rights Watch called on Cambodian authorities to “quash baseless” insurrection charges facing 11 former CNRP activists, according to a press release issued on Tuesday, two days before a verdict is set to be handed down by the Appeal Court.

Brad Adams, Asia director at HRW, was highly critical of the actions taken by the government after the 2013 elections.

“The prosecution of 11 CNRP members was one of the first of many bogus cases brought against the opposition after the party nearly won the disputed 2013 elections,” he is quoted as saying in the report.

“Prime Minister Hun Sen and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party apparently decided to lock up political opponents to stave off defeat at the ballot box,” he adds.

In April, the Appeal Court heard the case involving a 2013 CNRP-led protest that turned violent in a trial that lasted three days.

“Although the government has banned the political opposition from the July elections, Cambodian authorities have persisted with political trials of people who stood up to Hun Sen and the ruling party,” Adams said. “This case is particularly twisted because the people charged not only didn’t commit violence, but some actively tried to prevent it. The court’s ruling, in this case, sends a broader message to the international community that the future of peaceful public dissent in Cambodia is at stake.”

Chin Malin, spokesperson for Ministry of Justice, however, said the claims were an attack on the Cambodian leader and the ruling party.

“This is his tradition in accusing the government. What the NGO had done is not a ‘human rights mission’ anymore, but a revenge, an attack with personal vindictiveness on the leader because [the Human Rights Watch is] furious with the Cambodian leader and the ruling party,” Malin said.

He urged the NGO to take part in the proceedings by providing intelligent lawyers or additional evidence, if they want to help the activists facing charges.