European diplomats called on Interior Minister Sar Kheng yesterday to express their concerns about the recent spate of activists' arrests, with the minister reportedly saying that he believed a one-year sentence speedily handed down to seven Boeung Kak lake protesters last week was rather “heavy”.
EU Ambassador Jean-François Cautain said that he and representatives of six European nations “raised our concerns to [Deputy Prime Minister] Sar Kheng on the slow pace of the negotiations on the electoral reform and the recent wave of arrests”.
Regarding the arrests, Cautain said that the ambassadors told Kheng they “shared the view” of UN rights envoy Surya Subedi, who on Tuesday said the courts were being used as “a tool of the executive”.
Interior Ministry Secretary of State Prum Sokha said Kheng told the diplomats that the arrests had “no link” to ongoing election reform negotiations and that separate cases involving land activists, monks and opposition officials “were not systematic or linked up to each other".
“To him, he thinks that it’s a little bit heavy for that case of the ladies that [were arrested].… He said the suspects should go ahead with the Appeal Court.”