Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Foreign Ministry says UN worker has immunity

Foreign Ministry says UN worker has immunity

Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks in Preah Sihanouk province on May 1, where he said Soen Sally would not be protected by his UN immunity. Facebook
Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks in Preah Sihanouk province on May 1, where he said Soen Sally would not be protected by his UN immunity. Facebook

Foreign Ministry says UN worker has immunity

Cambodia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has requested that the Kingdom’s “competent authorities” stop legal action against United Nations staffer Soen Sally – one of several people charged with bribing the alleged mistress of Kem Sokha – declaring the human rights worker protected by UN immunity.

Contradicting a May 1 declaration by Prime Minister Hun Sen, who warned UN workers in Cambodia that they could not rely on their immunity for protection from arrest, the ministry has recommended the 1946 Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the UN be obeyed, according to spokesman Chum Sounry.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has informed the competent authorities about the immunity of Mr Soen Sally and requested the Cambodian competent authorities to stop the legal procedure against Mr Soen Sally,” Sounry said.

“The ministry was tasked with the duty to study the international law and to check whether Mr Soun Sally enjoys immunity or not, and we have checked it with the office of the UN in Phnom Penh and after that we have the duty to inform the competent authorities about Mr Soen Sally’s immunity.”

Sally is among seven people so far charged as part of a heavily criticised investigation into an alleged affair by the CNRP acting president.

They allegedly bribed Sokha’s purported mistress to deny the affair, though critics say the scandal is being fed and used by the ruling party to crack down on the opposition party and critical elements of civil society with legally dubious charges.

Though he was summonsed to face Phnom Penh Municipal Court, the UN refused to submit Sally for questioning citing his immunity.

Four workers from rights group Adhoc and a senior election official who did show up to answer questions were detained and charged, alongside an opposition commune chief.

Yesterday, Justice Ministry spokesman Chin Malin said he had yet to see the Foreign Ministry’s request, as did Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak.

Wan-Hea Lee, country representative of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights – for which Sally works – said they believed the matter settled.

“The response from MOFAIC was received late Thursday evening,” Lee said. “We understand it to mean that the arrest of our staff will not be pursued further. Our office is operating as usual.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Serious flooding across country

    The Kampong Speu provincial Committee for Disaster Management on Wednesday issued an alert after non-stop heavy rain caused widespread flooding. In Koh Kong province, authorities are working with the disaster committee and the Cambodian Red Cross to assist those affected after more than 350 homes were

  • CNRP points to King in call for vote boycott

    Leaders of the former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) have taken a new tack in their call for a boycott of the national elections later this month. They are now claiming that the people should follow the King, who is expected to abide by tradition

  • Actress’s NGO takes heat for promoting the ruling party

    An actress’s NGO which participated in an election campaign event contrary to the Law on Association and Non-Governmental Organisations (Lango) has been slammed. Chorn Chanleakena, a celebrity and the president of the Association of Artists Volunteering to Help Society, allegedly led its members in

  • Troop moves ‘won’t worry people’

    Senior officials at the Ministry of Defence and National Police said on Tuesday that riot training provided to the country’s police forces were aimed at preventing unexpected demonstrations and strikes before and after the July 29 national elections. The troop mobilisation, they said, would not