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

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro

  • Nestle’s debut may spur dairy market

    Leading confectionery manufacturer Nestle plans to invest in Cambodia by setting up an operation in the near future, a move majorly hailed by local dairy farmers as a means of boosting the fresh milk market in the Kingdom. During a visit by a delegation led

  • ACLEDA, WU to enable global money transfers

    Cambodia's largest commercial bank by total assets ACLEDA Bank Plc and global money transfer firm Western Union (WU) have partnered to offer customers cross-border money transfers to 200 countries via “ACLEDA mobile” app. In Channy, president and group managing director of ACLEDA, said the June 22 agreement