The government has lashed out at the U.S. and E.U. over their criticism of the detention of five current and former rights workers in Cambodia for more than a year, adopting the language of its critics by calling their statements “politically motivated.”
“They have no right to put pressure on the government or the court to release those people,” said Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan. “I think it’s politically motivated.”
Asked why he thought the U.S. and E.U. statements were politically motivated, Mr. Siphan said Adhoc and other human rights organizations received funding from the U.S. and E.U.
“They support each other…but they ignore the rule of law,” Mr. Siphan said.
“We are a sovereign and independent state and we respect the court,” he added. “They don’t know what due process is.”
The U.S. on Friday called the ongoing legal proceedings without trial an “unreasonable delay,” while the E.U. on Thursday stressed the need for the five prisoners’ rights to be “fully respected.”
Four senior officers from rights group Adhoc and a former staffer, National Election Committee official Ny Chakrya, have been detained since April 2016 over alleged involvement in bribery-related crimes.
A legal analysis of the case released in November by 12 organizations, including Adhoc, says no evidence that would justify their detention has been presented in court. The court action has hit the rights group and last year compelled then-CNRP Vice President Kem Sokha into hiding in party headquarters for over six months to evade a court summons and later prosecution.
On Thursday, Foreign Affairs Minister Prak Sokhonn met with U.S. officials and Asean foreign ministers in Washington, while the Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement that its spokesman was “dismayed” by the E.U. statement, calling it a violation of a diplomatic relations agreement.
“The decision of the court was made in accordance” with Cambodian law, the statement says, noting that the investigating judge has discretion to extend provisional detention for up to 18 months.