Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - UN envoy hits out at Freedom Park cutoff



UN envoy hits out at Freedom Park cutoff

UN envoy hits out at Freedom Park cutoff

The United Nations special rapporteur on freedom of assembly has called the Cambodian authorities’ continuous blockade of Freedom Park, the enforcement of which saw security guards attack journalists and supporters of opposition lawmaker-elect Mu Sochua on Monday, “deeply disturbing”.

“The authorities have no legal basis for using violence in response to a peaceful assembly. They also have no basis for banning peaceful assemblies,” Maina Kiai, the Kenyan lawyer who monitors the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association worldwide as a special envoy of the UN, said in an email on Wednesday.

Kiai said he had seen no information contradicting media and civil society reports that the gathering was “entirely peaceful, and there was no legitimate reason to halt it or to use force in response”.

Sochua has repeatedly tried to enter Freedom Park this month to draw attention to what she says is the critical state of freedom of expression in Cambodia. Despite the government’s lifting of a general ban on public assembly in February, the capital’s designated protest space has been kept off limits to demonstrators and gatherings with political undertones.

“The right to freedom of assembly is about preserving pluralism, and pluralism is essential in a democracy. We might not always agree with what a person or a group says, but we must defend their right to say it,” said Kiai, who paid an unofficial visit to Cambodia in February when the ban was in place.

“The overall atmosphere for civil discourse and space in Cambodia seems to have taken a sour turn in the months since I visited, particularly on the legislative front,” he
said, referring to proposed laws on NGOs, cybercrime and trade unions.

City Hall has characterised Monday’s violence as part of law enforcement and accused Sochua of incitement for political gain. On Tuesday, Sochua announced that she would take legal action against Daun Penh Deputy District Governor Sok Penh Vuth, who reportedly ordered security guards to attack the crowd on Monday.

MOST VIEWED

  • Municipal hall releases map detailing colour coded Covid risks by commune

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng released an official map detailing the red, yellow and dark yellow zones within the city under the new lockdown orders for Phnom Penh announced on April 26. The designation of red, dark yellow and yellow corresponds to areas with high,

  • Phnom Penh unveils rules for post-lockdown transition

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration issued a set of detailed guidelines for the seven days to May 12 after the capital emerges from lockdown at the onset of May 6. In the 14-page document signed by municipal governor Khuong Sreng released on the evening of May 5, the

  • SBI LY HOUR Bank Launches Cross Border Money Transfer Service between Cambodia and Vietnam on RippleNet, utilizing DLT

    SBI LY HOUR Bank Plc and Hanoi-based Tien Phong Commercial Joint Stock Bank (TPBank) on Friday launched the first Cambodia-Vietnam money transfer service in real currency via RippleNet, provided by SBI Ripple Asia Co Ltd to provide safe, fast and convenient services. SBI LY HOUR

  • Phnom Penh, Takmao lockdown extended for another week

    The government late on April 26 announced an extension of lockdown in Phnom Penh and adjacent Takmao town in Kandal province for another seven days – or longer if residents do not comply with Covid-19 preventive measures and the community outbreak does not subside – until May 5. According

  • Gov't mulls extension of Phnom Penh, Takmao lockdown

    The Inter-ministerial National Commission for the Control and Enforcement of Lockdown held a video conference meeting on April 25 to review a draft document on the extension of lockdown in Phnom Penh and adjacent Kandal province’s Takmao town. The meeting was chaired by Minister of

  • Gov’t issues guidelines as lockdown nears end

    The government has issued a five-page set of instructions to be enforced when the three-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Takmao town in Kandal province ends on May 6. According to an announcement signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on May 4, the instructions cover a