Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - US gets heat for judicial criticism




US gets heat for judicial criticism

CNRP activist Ouk Pich Samnang is escorted out of Phnom Penh Municipal Court last week by authorities after he and 10 others were convicted on insurrection charges.
CNRP activist Ouk Pich Samnang is escorted out of Phnom Penh Municipal Court last week by authorities after he and 10 others were convicted on insurrection charges. AFP

US gets heat for judicial criticism

Cambodia has slammed the United States for attempting to “destroy security and harmony” in the country after the US Embassy released a statement expressing concern over the jailing of 11 opposition party activists last Tuesday.

The Cambodia National Rescue Party activists, who include US citizen Meach Sovannara, were handed seven- to 20-year prison terms on insurrection charges filed over a year-old protest.

The protest turned into a street fight in which 39 people, mostly security officers, were injured.

On Saturday, the US Embassy released a press statement saying it was troubled by the sentences, viewed by many as overly harsh.

“The United States is deeply concerned by the process leading to these convictions,” it reads.

“We urge the Cambodian government to carefully review its judicial processes to ensure that they are complete and transparent and in accordance with domestic law and international norms.”

The Cambodian government, however, reacted strongly to the statement, accusing the US of attempting to destabilise the Kingdom.

“Cambodia is independent and sovereign, and therefore the [US announcement] supporting the criminals and not respecting the court’s decision is a completely wrong act, and can be considered as intended to increase anarchy and destroy security and harmony in the whole of Cambodian society,” a letter from the Press and Quick Reaction Unit released on Saturday reads.

The letter goes on to justify the conviction of the 11 activists, describing their trial and sentencing as wholly independent of the politics.

“In order to eliminate the culture of impunity and strengthen the rule of law, as well as [lessen] violence, the government has an obligation to take legal measures in accordance with the Constitution in order to ensure peace and justice for the victims.

“The Press and Quick Reaction Unit … absolutely denies any charge made at the government [that it is] interfering in court affairs, which is an act against the principles of the laws stated in the constitution.”

Political analyst Ou Virak, however, said the Cambodian judicial system remained far from independent, even according to the country’s own laws, which empower executive bodies such as the Anti-Corruption Unit to oversee the courts.

“You basically have everything in the laws that say the courts cannot be independent, period,” he said. “Because of that I think Cambodia will always be accused of making political/judicial decisions.”

MOST VIEWED

  • PM slams HRW ‘double standards’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has chided Human Rights Watch (HRW) Asia director Brad Adams for keeping quiet over protest crackdowns in the US following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25. Addressing reporters while inspecting infrastructure development in Preah Sihanouk province on Monday,

  • Bank robber of $6M asks to be released

    An accused bank robber who admitted to stealing $6 million has asked the Supreme Court to release him temporarily because he had returned the money. In a court hearing on Tuesday Chan Simuntha, 39, told the judge that on January 18, his wife Teang Vathanaknearyroth told him that

  • WHO: Antibiotics cause more deaths

    Increased antibiotics use in combating the Covid-19 pandemic will strengthen bacterial resistance and ultimately lead to more deaths during the crisis and beyond, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Monday. WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said a “worrying number” of bacterial infections were becoming

  • Children in poverty said to rise by 86M

    The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Save the Children warned that if urgent measures are not taken, the number of children living in poverty across low- and middle-income countries could increase by 86 million, a 15 per cent jump, by the end of the year. In

  • Four more Cambodian peacekeepers get Covid-19 in Mali

    Four more Cambodian Blue Helmet peacekeepers in Mali have been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, bringing the number of infected Cambodian UN peacekeepers to 10. National Centre for Peacekeeping Forces and Explosive Remnants of War deputy director-general and spokeswoman Kosal Malinda told The Post on Tuesday

  • Huge tracks of undocumented land a concern for registration officials

    Siem Reap provincial deputy governor Ly Samrith expressed concern that land registration plans for residents scheduled to be completed by late 2021 could not be achieved because 80 per cent of the land had not been registered. Land dispute issues are a major factor that poses a