Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Singapore urges progress on Asean extradition treaty

Singapore urges progress on Asean extradition treaty

Asean leaders pose for a group photograph during the opening of the 32nd Asean Summit in Singapore on Saturday. Roslan Rahman/AFP
Asean leaders pose for a group photograph during the opening of the 32nd Asean Summit in Singapore on Saturday. Roslan Rahman/AFP

Singapore urges progress on Asean extradition treaty

Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong urged Asean member states to begin drafting a regional extradition treaty, prompting observers to raise concerns over the existing misuse of expatriation procedures by countries in the 10-member bloc, including Cambodia.

The comments were made in the Singaporean premier’s statement to the 32nd Asean Summit, attended by Prime Minister Hun Sen over the weekend. Lee said that a model extradition treaty had already been agreed upon by all members and that it was time to start work on an actionable draft.

“We noted that work could commence on an Asean extradition treaty as a next step, to strengthen Asean’s resilience and capacity to combat transnational crime, and to enhance cooperation within Asean to ensure respect for the rule of law,” his statement reads.

Cambodia has been criticised by rights groups for attempting to extradite political dissidents, especially from Thailand, which is often the first port of call for anyone escaping the country. The two countries already share an extradition treaty.

Sam Sokha, wanted for throwing a shoe at a ruling party billboard last year, was arrested in Thailand for overstaying her visa and sent back to Cambodia, despite being a UN-recognised refugee. She was then convicted by a Kampong Speu court and sentenced to two years in prison for “incitement to discriminate” and “insulting a public official”, a decision condemned by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the UN Refugee Agency.

Sam Sokha enters the Kampong Speu Provincial Court on Thursday, where she was sentenced to two years for incitement and insult for throwing a shoe at a CPP billboard in last year. Licadho
Sam Sokha enters the Kampong Speu Provincial Court on Thursday, where she was sentenced to two years for incitement and insult for throwing a shoe at a CPP billboard in last year. Licadho

Last week, political dissident Sam Serey, branded a “terrorist” by the government, was also arrested in Bangkok for overstaying his visa, with Cambodian officials putting in a request for his extradition. Serey, however, was sent back to Denmark, where he has permanent residency after being granted political asylum.

Human Rights Watch’s Phil Robertson said probably only a few people had seen the text of the model Asean extradition treaty, given the bloc’s opaque operations and refusal to include civil society in decisions.

“But already alarm bells are going off because governments like Cambodia, Thailand, Singapore and others in the region obstinately refuse to understand that fear of political persecution is a legitimate reason to not extradite someone,” he said.

Paul Chambers, lecturer at the Naresuan University in Thailand, said it was likely any regional extradition treaty would benefit repressive regimes.

“Such a treaty could, however, help authoritarian regimes within ASEAN assist each other to deport exiled dissenters home to face state punishment,” he said via email.

MOST VIEWED

  • Government hits back at threats to pull EBA, suspend UN seat

    The spokesman for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) has said the government is in no way concerned after the European Parliament gave it three months to reverse what it called the “systematic repression of the political opposition”. Ignoring the ultimatum could mean facing

  • Chinese influx pushing locals, Westerners out of Preah Sihanouk

    Some within the Kingdom’s tourism industry have speculated that the recent influx of Chinese visitors may hinder domestic tourism as the price of accommodations in the coastal city of Sihanoukville continues to rise. Preah Sihanouk province, which has become a hotbed for Chinese investment

  • Sar Kheng: Sokha requested security

    Interior Minister Sar Kheng on Sunday revealed the story behind the transfer of former opposition party leader Kem Sokha from Trapaing Phlong prison in Tbong Khmum province to his house in the capital. Speaking at the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) headquarters in Prey

  • ‘Dire consequences’ from sanctions, warns AmCham

    American businesspeople in Cambodia have warned that any sanction against the Kingdom would have “dire consequences” that could push Cambodia even further into the arms of China. In a letter to US senators and representatives dated Monday, the American Chamber of Commerce Cambodia (AmCham) said