Envoy Meets Jailed SRP Editor, Opposition

Jailed SRP journalist Hang Chakra was visited Saturday evening by UN human rights envoy Surya Subedi, the current editor of Mr Chakra’s newspaper said yesterday.

On his second visit to Cambodia, Mr Subedi also met with members of the allied opposition HRP and SRP on Friday and Saturday officials said.

Former editor of the SRP-affiliated Khmer Mchas Srok, Mr Chakra was convicted of disinformation and sentenced to a year in prison in June for publishing articles alleging government corruption.

In his first address to the UN Human Rights Council in October, Mr Subedi said that political speech should not be subject to criminal penalties.

“I know that Mr Subedi and his colleague went to visit Mr Heng Chakra at Prey Sar prison on Saturday evening but I don’t know what they were talking about,” said Chum Sophal, the current editor of Khmer Mchas Srok.

Since his appointment in March of last year, Mr Subedi has striven to remain evenhanded in his dealings with the government.

Speaking to reporters at SRP headquarters on Saturday, Mr Subedi said he and the opposition “share very important ideas” on democracy and the rule of law.

Mr Subedi declined to be drawn when questioned about Wednesday’s trial in Svay Rieng province of SRP leader Sam Rainsy on charges of racial incitement and property destruction.

Generally speaking, courts should be independent, Mr Subedi said.

“I will certainly be looking at the issues of due process of law, fair trial and to make sure that the people who have been accused of committing these activities are dealt with properly,” he said.

HRP Secretary-General Yem Ponhearith said yesterday that Mr Subedi had also met with party members on Friday to discuss land-grabbing, corruption and the unsolved 2004 murder of trade unionist Chea Vichea.

According to the Foreign Ministry, Mr Subedi will meet with Cabinet Minister Sok An today ahead of appointments with government human rights committee president Om Yentieng and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong later in the week.

“Excellency Hor Namhong will hold a meeting with him on the 27th,” said Sam Ratana, deputy director of international relations, adding that Mr Subedi was due to travel to Siem Reap and Battambang provinces on Tuesday.

(Additional reporting by Douglas Gillison)


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