Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - No political prisoners here, says ruling party




No political prisoners here, says ruling party

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy and Prime Minister Hun Sen stand on the steps of the Senate last July after a meeting to end the political deadlock. The ruling party has warned the opposition that questioning Tuesday’s verdict could jeopardise the culture of dialogue.
Opposition leader Sam Rainsy and Prime Minister Hun Sen stand on the steps of the Senate last July after a meeting to end the political deadlock. The ruling party has warned the opposition that questioning Tuesday’s verdict could jeopardise the culture of dialogue. Heng Chivoan

No political prisoners here, says ruling party

As outrage still reverberates among opposition supporters over Tuesday’s conviction of 11 Cambodia National Rescue Party activists on “insurrection” charges, the ruling Cambodian People’s Party has warned that questioning the verdict will imperil the ongoing “culture of dialogue”.

In a statement issued late on Wednesday, the CPP stated that the culture of dialogue can only be maintained by showing respect to the constitution, in which the independence of the judiciary is enshrined.

“Cambodia has no political prisoners, [only] politicians who commit offences and are punished by law,” the statement reads.

The statement comes as indignation continues to be expressed by opposition supporters and NGOs, who say the verdict was politically motivated and a clear indication of judicial bias.

The 11 activists were sentenced to between seven and 20 years for their role in a July 2014 demonstration that turned violent in Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park.

Participants were protesting a ban on public gatherings in the park, which is a space traditionally reserved for political rallies.

Human Rights Watch has previously stated it has video evidence that the violence, which saw a number of Dauh Penh district’s notorious security guards severely beaten, was instigated by the irregular government forces.

Senior investigator at rights group Licadho Am Sam Ath yesterday slammed the CPP’s claims that the courts are independent, pointing to the fact that jailed opposition activists had only received bail since the start of the “culture of dialogue” between the ruling and opposition parties.

“This clearly shows that the courts are not independent,” he said.

In a statement released yesterday by the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, 11 civil society groups condemned Tuesday’s verdict, saying it was “based on trumped-up charges and characterized by a total disrespect for fair trial rights”.

“No credible evidence supporting the claim that the defendants had planned an ‘insurrection,’ or that any of the 11 had themselves committed acts of violence, was produced during the trial,” the statement says.

Speaking yesterday, the president of rights group Adhoc, Thun Saray, said the CPP’s attempt to banish all objection from the ongoing rapprochement with the CNRP was anti-democratic.

“Criticism and the culture of dialogue must go hand-in-hand, because this is a multi-party democracy,” Saray said.

However, that goodwill appears to be increasingly strained, despite CNRP leader Sam Rainsy praising the culture of dialogue on his Facebook page on the same day the 11 were sentenced – a post widely criticised as insensitive by supporters.

In a statement released by the opposition leader yesterday, in which he also responded to outrage over his decision to leave for France despite the sentences, Rainsy labelled the verdict “a brutal act of repression”.

“There will be other appropriate actions and measures we will take on several fronts in the coming days,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Body of woman killed in Bangkok returns

    The Cambodian embassy in Thailand is working to repatriate the body of a casino dealer who was shot dead in Bangkok on Monday night. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesman Kuy Kuong told The Post on Wednesday that officials are preparing paperwork to

  • Chikungunya hits 15 provinces, says gov’t

    Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said on Thursday that the chikungunya outbreak in the Kingdom has spread to 15 provinces. Some 1,700 people are now suspected to have the disease. Vandine urged people to prevent its further spread by eliminating shelters for the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes

  • Gov’t exempts visa A and B holders from Covid fees

    Airline passengers who are diplomats and officials of international organisations holding Type A and B visas for travel to Cambodia are exempted from paying Covid-19 testing fees, said the Ministry of Health in its latest adjustment of rules on Wednesday. Health Minister Mam Bun Heng

  • Bill covering dress code draws ire

    Ministry of Interior secretary of state Ouk Kim Lek responded on Tuesday to criticism concerning a draft law that would ban women from wearing overly revealing clothing, saying that input from all parties will be considered as the law moves through the promulgation process. Several

  • Passing the test: Is Cambodia’s education system failing its people?

    The Kingdom’s education system needs to grow its people but some flaws might stifle​ this growth Coming from the Khmer Rouge occupation, with the loss of many scholars and academicians and a collapsed government, the education system had to be reconstructed from scratch – one

  • What’s the deal with Cambodia and China’s FTA?

    Cambodia’s Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China kicks off a series of FTAs in future but for now, critics wonder what else the parties could bring to the table apart from what it already has to date By the end of this year, Cambodia