36th HRC Session: Oral Statement on Political Harassment in Cambodia

On 26 September 2017, Human Rights Now gave an oral statement on harassment by the Cambodia government against political figures leading up to the 2018 elections at the 36th Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Thank you Mr. Vice-President,

Human Rights Now expresses grave concern over suppression of political groups, civil society, and media in Cambodia through intimidation and harassment as the 2018 general election approaches.

Earlier this month, party leader Kem Sokha was imprisoned for treason despite political immunity, and former leader, Sam Rainsy, has been in exile to escape prosecution since November 2015. Fourteen CNRP officials and supporters remain imprisoned for participating in protests in 2014.

Vague language in the 2015 Law on Associations and Non-governmental Organizations also unduly restricts Cambodian NGOs by allowing officials to threaten deregistering them. This year the Ministry of Interior ordered CSO members of the election monitoring association Situation Room to cease their activities or face sanctions, including closure, after it reported flaws in the 2017 communal elections.

The independent radio stations RFA and VOD were also forced to shut down, as was the most independent and critical investigative newspaper, Cambodia Daily, after being accused of tax evasion following an arbitrarily huge tax bill.

Mr. Vice-President,

We urge the Cambodian government to cease its threats, harassment, and arbitrary prosecution of political figures, civil society activists, and media, and to respect their rights to freedom of expression in order to ensure a fair and transparent general election in 2018.

Thank you.