Cambodia has formally asked the Thai government to extradite two men who fled the country after Prime Minister Hun Sen warned they would be arrested for criticizing his border policies, officials said Thursday.
Thai Ambassador Piyawat Niyomrerks said he received the request by fax on Wednesday and had forwarded it to Bangkok.
The ambassador could not say whether the Thai government would honor the request and did not know how long it would take for a decision to be made.
“We would have to base it upon the individual merits of the case,” Piyawat Niyomrerks said. “This is within the procedures that have been agreed upon by the two countries.”
Hun Sen said Monday that Man Nath, president of the Cambodian Independent Civil Servant Association, and Ear Channa, deputy secretary-general of the Student Movement for Democracy, were under the protection of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Thailand.
Giuseppe de Vincentis, UNHCR spokesman in Bangkok, declined comment.
Several officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs referred the matter to Secretary of State Long Visalo, who hung up the phone without commenting.
In a statement obtained Thursday, the UN’s human rights envoy to Cambodia, Peter Leuprecht, criticized the arrests of Beehive FM 105 Radio owner Mam Sonando and Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association.
“The arrests and detention of Mam Sonando and Rong Chhun in Prey Sar prison are highly irregular and illustrate a deeply worrying trend,” Leuprecht wrote.
The International Labor Organization also expressed its concern over the arrest and detention of Rong Chhun on Thursday.
“The ILO has relayed its deepest concerns to the Ministry of Labor,” said Christine Evans-Klock, director of the UN agency’s East Asia subregional office, adding the case against Rong Chhun should be a civil matter, not a criminal one.
Cambodia has built its garment industry on its compliance with international labor standards, she said, adding that such actions would only hurt that success in the long term.