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

  • Investors’ $14.4M projects approved

    New investments from local and foreign sources continue to pour into Cambodia despite the Covid-19 pandemic remaining a lingering threat to regional and global economies. This comes as the Kingdom’s gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to contract between one and 2.9 per cent this

  • NagaWorld casinos set to reopen, schools to follow

    NAGACORP Ltd has requested that it be allowed to reopen its NagaWorld integrated resorts in Phnom Penh after the government recently approved casinos to operate again, provided they follow Covid-19 prevention measures set by the Ministry of Health. Mey Vann, the director-general of the Ministry

  • Rubber exports stretch 17%

    Cambodia exported 97,175 tonnes of natural rubber in the first five months of this year, surging 17 per cent compared to the same period last year as the Covid-19 pandemic stretches on, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries official Khuong Phalla told The Post on Thursday. Phalla,

  • ASEM supports Kingdom’s proposal to postpone meeting amid Covid

    The 13th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM13) scheduled to be held in Cambodia in November has been postponed until mid-2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation press statement released on Saturday said. The decision was made during a two-day meeting

  • Coffee maker roasted for producing fake product

    The Ministry of Interior’s Counter Counterfeit Committee will send a suspect to court on Monday after she allegedly roasted coffee mixed with soybeans and other ingredients, creating a product which could pose a high risk to consumers’ health. On the afternoon of July 2, the

  • Cash handout programme 80% complete

    Minister of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation Vong Soth confirmed on Thursday that the implementation of the Cash Transfer Programme For Poor and Vulnerable Households During Covid-19 had been implemented for more than 80% of the over 560,000 families. The programme was introduced one week ago.

  • Cambodia armed with money laundering laws

    Money laundering will now carry a penalty of up to five years in prison while those convicted of financing terrorists will be jailed for up to 20 years, according to new laws promulgated by King Norodom Sihamoni and seen by The Post on Thursday. Comprising nine

  • Where is Cambodia’s exit strategy that can save the economy?

    With the prospect of being slammed by a double whammy, the government is working on an economic recovery plan to deliver it from Covid-19 and the EU’s partial withdrawal of the Everything But Arms scheme in the next two to three years Cambodia is

  • Schools to be reopened in ‘three stages’

    With guidance from Prime Minister Hun Sen, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, is in the process of reopening schools in three stages. But no timeline has been set, ministry spokesperson Ros Soveacha said on Thursday. Soveacha said the first stage will be to

  • Kingdom, UN discuss rights

    A year after Cambodia received 198 recommendations from UN member countries, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR-Cambodia) met with the Cambodia Human Rights Committee (CHRC) to discuss following-up on the Kingdom’s third cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and