Government officials have threatened that those who boycott the coming election but ink their fingers to indicate they had voted will face punishment according to the law. But analysts and opposition figures say that there is no applicable law relating to such an issue.
Kim Santepheap, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Justice, said on Wednesday that those who fake having voted will face penalties according to criminal law.
The threat was an obvious reference to the former leader of the now-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party, Sam Rainsy, who called for a boycott of the July 29 national elections.
He is quoted by Fresh News as saying: “Faking having voted by inking the finger is an ill-intentioned act meant to cause confusion about the real number of voters. It will lead to having more voters than the actual ballot papers.
“This action causes the confusion that there is an irregularity in the election which further promotes chaos in society.
“The above action is against the law, with the penalty of going to jail, according to the Criminal Code,” he said, without specifying the articles people would be arrested under.
Santepheap did not respond to queries raised by The Post on Wednesday. But his statement was welcomed by Interior Ministry spokesperson, Khieu Sopheak.
“We will let them work on how to approach this issue. Maybe he found a law which can be enforced because he is good with legal issues.
“We, the Ministry of Interior, are waiting to enforce the law. We will enforce it immediately. We will wait to be told about the law by the Ministry of Justice,” Sopheak said on Wednesday.
Mu Sochua, former CNRP deputy president, asked what law would be applied and claimed the move to take criminal action is unconstitutional.
“I believe the Cambodian People’s Party is afraid of the power of the people who will boycott the election,” she said on Wednesday.
Political analyst Lao Mong Hay said there could be no penalty without a law. He said a legal officer, like Santepheap, is required to base a charge on specific legal provisions.
“Otherwise, his statement would inevitably be seen as a threat or coercion to compel people to vote, if not being just a lie,” Hay said.