The Cambodian Center for Human Rights released a public notice on Monday noting a “substantial increase” in the number of people being charged for making anti-government or anti-Hun Sen comments in social media.
According to CCHR, seven people have been arrested and at least 24 threatened since August for online comments they made, often directed at the ruling party, Prime Minister Hun Sen or his family.
“These incidents have occurred against a backdrop of an increasingly hostile environment for freedom of expression, as Prime Minister Hun Sen has repeatedly threatened those who criticize his authority,” the statement reads.
The crackdown on internet speech, the statement adds, “threatens freedom of expression in the Kingdom”.
Government spokesman Phay Siphan dismissed CCHR’s assessment yesterday, saying the rights group had not distinguished between dangerous and harmless speech.
The government, he added, has a duty to arrest citizens if they “disrespected” the premier “since the prime minister originates from the election and serves the national security of Cambodia”.