The Cambodian Centre for Human Rights called on the Government to clarify its legal basis for refusing to restore opposition Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Mu Sochua’s parliamentary immunity in a statement issued yesterday.
“In the absence of clear provisions expressly allowing for the refusal to restore parliamentary immunity to a member of the National Assembly who has been convicted of a crime but not sentenced to a term of
imprisonment, CCHR calls on the Government to restore Mu Sochua’s immunity with immediate effect,” Ou Virak, president of the CCHR, said in the statement.
The CCHR statement follows a letter from the Ministry of Justice to the National Assembly on January 28, which stated that Mu Sochua could remain without her parliamentary immunity for up to five years.
Mu Sochua said yesterday that she would not pursue an appeal in her case, saying that she was a victim of politics.
“I am still a political victim, and I will not write a letter to the Appeal Court because I was pressured by politicians from the ruling party,” she said yesterday.
She added that the National Assembly had failed to live up to its obligations to protect its members.
“I think the National Assembly did not play its role as a democratic institution because members of [the body] did not protect fellow members from political pressure by politicians.”
Mu Sochua’s parliamentary immunity was suspended in 2009 to allow for her prosecution in a defamation case brought by Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Her highly publicised legal battle with the Prime Minister Hun Sen started in April of that year, when she filed a defamation suit against Hun Sen in relation to comments he allegedly made about her during a speech in Kampot province.
The Premier countersued and the court ruled against her, ordering her to pay 16.5 million riel (US$4,084) in fines and compensation.
Though Mu Sochua refused to pay – saying she was willing to go to jail if necessary – the court issued an order authorising the docking of her salary for four months.
Cheam Yeap, a senior lawmaker for the Cambodian People’s Party, said Mu Sochua’s immunity was a minor issue.
“She has to wait, and the removal of ... immunity remains a minor point because Mu Sochua can attend meetings and can vote to adopt new laws just like any other lawmaker.”