Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Kem Sokha forbidden from leaving country




Kem Sokha forbidden from leaving country

CNRP lawmaker Pol Ham speaks yesterday at the party’s headquarters in Meanchey district during a press conference regarding the opposition’s current activities.
CNRP lawmaker Pol Ham speaks yesterday at the party’s headquarters in Meanchey district during a press conference regarding the opposition’s current activities. Pha Lina

Kem Sokha forbidden from leaving country

CNRP acting president Kem Sokha has been forbidden from leaving the country, after a fresh court order was issued from the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

Police arrived at the party’s headquarters yesterday morning with the order in hand, which opposition lawmakers refused to accept and was later taped to the front of Sokha’s home in Tuol Kork district.

Dated July 8 and issued by investigating judge Than Leng, the notice places Sokha under the control of the court and obliges him not to leave Cambodian soil.

“If the accused man escapes intentionally from the [court’s] obligation, according to the court [procedure], the investigating judge can decide to detain the accused man temporarily,” the order reads.

It also calls upon authorities to notify the investigating judge if “the accused man Kem Sokha does not respect this decision”.

An investigation into Sokha’s failure to appear before the court in relation to an alleged prostitution case, which critics have labelled politically motivated, was officially completed on July 1.

Armed police briefly surrounded the CNRP headquarters on May 26 in an apparent attempt to arrest him and Sokha has been holed up at the headquarters ever since.

CNRP lawmakers yesterday slammed the travel restriction as an abuse of Sokha’s rights, deeming it unconstitutional and reiterating that he could not be arrested while he still had immunity.

“[This act] confirms clearly that His Excellency Kem Sokha’s case is politically motivated,” they said in a statement.

Lawmaker Mu Sochua added that the political situation – in which four members of civil society, a CNRP commune chief and NEC official Ny Chakrya remain in prison in connection to the case – and what she termed a violation of the constitution were “alarming” and “problematic”.

“The political situation is a difficult case and cannot be dealt with by a judicial system that is not independent; therefore, we will continue to ask for dialogue [between the ruling party and the opposition],” she said.

“It’s clear that these national institutions that are supposed to be independent cannot be, even if they wanted to, because political pressure is imposed on them.”

Lawyer Sok Sam Oeun, president of Cambodian Defenders Project (CDP), said that the move could set a concerning precedent.

“Prohibiting him from leaving the country . . . the court can do something like that only for the lay people who have no immunity,” he said. “If the court can do this, it shows that immunity means nothing.”

Sokha’s lawyer, Hem Socheat, yesterday said he was bewildered by the decision, as the investigation into his client’s non-appearance had been closed. He called on the court to either send the case to trial or acquit Sokha.

But Phnom Penh Municipal Court spokesman Ly Sophanna said the move was in line with legal procedure and that there was more than sufficient basis for the travel restrictions.

MOST VIEWED

  • UN bodies call for drug centre closure

    Thirteen UN entities on Monday issued a joint statement calling on countries in Asia and the Pacific to close all compulsory drug detention and rehabilitation centres to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and other diseases and some forms of human rights violations. The group includes

  • Man on run after family murder

    A mother and daughter were found dead amid a pile of burnt rubble after a house in Thma Koul district’s Bonsai Treng commune in Battambang burned down at 1:40am on Sunday. District police chief Phong Sopheap told The Post on Monday that Kim Thoeun, 52,

  • Racism a ‘chronic disease’ in the US

    China said on Monday that the ongoing civil unrest in the US highlighted its severe problems of racism and police violence, and exposed Washington’s double standards in supporting Hong Kong’s protesters. “Black people’s lives are also lives. Their human rights must also

  • VN PM targets prosperous status for key southern economic region by 2035

    Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on Saturday asked the southern key economic region to strive to become a powerful and prosperous region by 2035, 10 years ahead of the deadline for the same goal for the whole nation. He made the remarks while chairing a meeting

  • Thai MPs push $60B Covid-19 aid package through Parliament

    A covid-19 financial aid package sailed through Thailand’s House of Representatives on Sunday but opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) attacked the 1.9 trillion baht ($60 billion) aid as mostly benefiting big businesses. After five days of debate, the lower house voted in favour of the package

  • Indonesia backtracks on decision to relax wood export terms

    Indonesia has backtracked on a decision to relax export requirements for timber products months after issuing a deregulation policy that environmental groups criticised for threatening to put sustainable timber trade at risk. On May 11, the Ministry of Trade issued a regulation annulling its previous regulation