Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - NGOs want charges dropped

NGOs want charges dropped

A member of the security forces that attempted to clear Freedom Park last month is rushed away after being attacked by protesters
A member of the security forces that attempted to clear Freedom Park last month is rushed away after being attacked by protesters. Heng Chivoan

NGOs want charges dropped

Charges brought against opposition members for their alleged role in inciting violence against district security guards during a protest at Freedom Park last month were politically motivated and should be dropped, civil society leaders said yesterday.

Speaking at a press conference organised by the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee, leading human rights workers told reporters that, according to the criminal code, the charges should be dropped.

Ny Chakrya, a senior investigator for rights group Adhoc, said there was “not enough evidence” to charge the Cambodia National Rescue Party members.

On July 15, a protest organised by the CNRP turned violent after Daun Penh district security guards attempted to physically disperse demonstrators calling for the opening of the long-closed park, only to see many of their ranks beaten themselves. Seven lawmakers and several CNRP members were charged in the aftermath of the violence for allegedly inciting it, though many argue security struck first.

“If we look at the demonstrators, they had plastic flag poles, but the security forces had wooden batons,” Chakrya said. “This shows [guards] were prepared to commit violence.”

CNRP deputy president Kem Sokha was summonsed to court shortly after the lawmakers and an activist were bailed in July, followed by the arrests of a number of party members, three of whom are in prison.

In a statement yesterday, the rights group Licadho decried the fact that the jailed activists’ families were barred from visiting.

“These restrictions are wholly unnecessary, cruel and seemingly politically motivated,” said Licadho’s Am Sam Ath.

Koul Panha, executive director of election watchdog Comfrel, said the ruling Cambodian People’s Party was using the courts to apply political pressure amid ongoing negotiations over amendments to the constitution and other laws agreed to on July 22.

“I guess that they are using the courts for their political interests, to intimidate [CNRP] youths,” he said.

But Council of Ministers spokesman Tith Sothea dismissed the claims, saying “crimes must be resolved according to the law”.

MOST VIEWED

  • New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

    After a US congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation that will enact sanctions on Cambodian officials responsible for “undermining democracy” in the Kingdom, government officials and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Sunday said they regarded the potential action as the “violation of independence and sovereignty

  • Angkor Wat named as the top landmark for the second year

    Travel website TripAdvisor has named Cambodia’s ancient wonder Angkor Wat as the top landmark in the world for the second year running in their Travelers’ Choice Award 2018, an achievement Cambodian tourism operators expect will attract more tourists to the Kingdom. The website uses traveller

  • Ministry’s plan for net sparks fears

    The government has ordered all domestic and international internet traffic in the Kingdom to pass through a Data Management Centre (DMC) that has been newly created by the state-owned Telecom Cambodia, in a move some have claimed is an attempt to censor government critics. Spokesman

  • Hun Sen detractors ‘will die’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday said those who curse or insult him would eventually die without a plot of land to bury their bodies after being killed by lightning, suffering the same fate as those who recently died in Thmar Baing district in Koh