Ban on CNRP Prison Visits to Maintain ‘Public Order’

Authorities have the right to ban future prison visits by the opposition CNRP because they can use any measure to maintain public order, a Justice Ministry spokesman said on Monday, responding to accusations that a radio journalist used deceptive tactics to join opposition lawmakers on a prison visit.

Huot Khim Vuthy, a Radio Free Asia journalist, on Wednesday joined a CNRP delegation on a visit to imprisoned activists and former party officials in Phnom Penh’s Prey Sar prison. Mr. Khim Vuthy, who is deputy director for the news station in Cambodia and broadcasts under the name Chun Chanboth, says he left his occupation blank on the sign-in form, but government officials have accused him of falsely declaring his position to be an “assistant” to the opposition.

Chin Malin, a spokesman for the Justice Ministry, said the government was banning the CNRP from future visits based on “the principle of public administrative policy.”

“That means that in order to keep social security and public order, the authorities have the right to use any measure, like banning people…from visiting any place,” Mr. Malin said.

CNRP lawmaker Mu Sochua, who was part of the delegation to Prey Sar, said that if the government would give guidance on “how to be more careful,” and then rescind its stated ban, “we will follow it.”

She said both she and Long Ry, another CNRP lawmaker on the prison trip, would comply with court summonses and appear at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Thursday and Friday, respectively, as witnesses in the case.

“We did not have any bad intentions,” Ms. Sochua said. “We were just careless at the time.”

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