Asia - Pacific

UN experts accuse Cambodia of opposition leaders' flawed trials

Cambodia rejects allegations, urges UN experts to strictly follow 'set conduct'

Riyaz ul Khaliq   | 29.06.2022
UN experts accuse Cambodia of opposition leaders' flawed trials

ISTANBUL

The UN experts on Wednesday accused Cambodia of conducting deeply flawed trials of opposition leaders, urging the government to urgently review and remedy the process to ensure the defendants’ access to justice. The government has dismissed the claims made by the UN experts.

Cambodia has been urged to conduct an “urgent review” of the legal proceedings brought against opposition politicians after at least 43 defendants were convicted in a third mass trial on charges of plotting and inciting against the government and sentenced to up to eight years in jail.

UN experts Vitit Muntarbhorn, Clement Nyaletsossi Voule, and Diego Garcia-Sayan in a joint statement said the defendants are linked to the disbanded Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP), which was outlawed after a strong electoral performance in 2017.

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court announced the decision on June 14.

“The outcome of this first instance trial reinforces a troubling pattern of political trials peppered with judicial flaws,” the UN experts alleged, urging the government to “urgently review and remedy the process to ensure the defendants’ access to justice.”

However, the Cambodian mission to the UN said the statement was "unfounded and prejudicial."

"The so-called rights experts' narrative is one-sided and biased," the mission said, calling on the UN experts to "exercise their functions in strict observance" of set conduct for special rapporteurs.

"Their independence cannot be detached from responsibility," the Cambodian mission emphasized.

The call for a review of the cases from Geneva, where the UN human rights office is headquartered, came after the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen sought an arrest warrant against under-trial opposition leader Kem Sokha.

Sokha was arrested in 2017 after the now-disbanded CNRP had made significant political gains. Fearing arrest, several CNRP members fled the country.

“The Embassy learned that the prosecutor requested the court to issue an arrest warrant for Kem Sokha. I hope that the Judge will consider what is in the national interest when deciding on this request,” tweeted Phnom Penh-based German Ambassador Christian Berger.

After the ruling Cambodian People’s Party won 9,338 out of the 11,622 commune council seats that were contested early this month, Sen on Wednesday called for a general election to be held next year in July.​​​​​​​

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