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US House to discuss rights in Cambodia

US House to discuss rights in Cambodia

THE US House of Representatives plans to hold a hearing to discuss the current political and social climate in Cambodia, the US Embassy in Phnom Penh confirmed on Monday.

Embassy spokesman John Johnson said that the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, a group of congressional representatives who monitor rights norms around the world, "will meet on September 10 to discuss the human rights situation in Cambodia, and ... they have invited some Cambodians to participate."

Radio Free Asia reported on Thursday that in addition to members of the US State Department and Congress, SRP parliamentarian Mu Sochua, Licadho rights group president Pung Chiv Kek and Cambodia Labor Organisation President Moeun Tola will be present at the hearing.

The hearing will focus on the recent spate of defamation lawsuits by government officials against the opposition, accusations of government manipulation of the judiciary and land evictions of questionable legality, the RFA report said.

During a visit to Cambodia on August 18, US Senator Jim Webb met with Prime Minister Hun Sen, as well as opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha. The senator said afterwards that he "listened in great detail to the concerns of the opposition leaders" regarding the ongoing crackdown on political speech in the Kingdom, though he stopped short of condemning the government on this point.