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

  • Ethnic group ‘disappointed’ to be denied French visas to attend court

    Eleven people at the centre of a case involving seven indigenous Bunong villages in Mondulkiri province pursuing legal action in France have expressed disappointment after the French embassy in Phnom Penh denied their visa applications to attend court. A press release said the 11 included a

  • Cambodia nabs 12th place in best retirement destinations

    Cambodia is an expatriate hotspot for those dreaming of living a more luxurious lifestyle at an affordable cost, according to International Living’s Annual Global Retirement Index 2019. For the fourth year in a row, Cambodia took the top spot in the Cost of Living category.

  • EU starts EBA withdrawal

    The EU on Monday announced that it has begun the 18-month process of withdrawing the Kingdom’s access to its preferential Everything But Arms (EBA) agreement over “a deterioration of democracy [and] respect for human rights”. However, the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC) said

  • PM: War result of foreign meddling

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Sunday that Cambodia’s recent history of conflict was caused by foreign interference. “The wars that happened were caused by provocation, incitement, support, smearing and interference from foreign powers, and the group of ignorant people who pushed Cambodia to