National Police Commissioner Hok Lundy said Friday that Thai authorities have agreed to try to arrest three men accused of defaming Prime Minister Hun Sen and inciting others to commit crimes, so that they can be extradited and face criminal charges.
Hok Lundy made the announcement to reporters at Phnom Penh International Airport, after returning from Thailand with Hun Sen.
He named the three men as Man Nath, president of Cambodian Independent Civil Servants Association, Ear Channa, deputy secretary-general of Student Movement for Democracy and Chea Mony, president of the Free Trade Union, who are all accused of defaming Hun Sen over the supplemental border agreement with Vietnam.
“The government of Thailand and us have an agreement, so they will try hard to arrest the suspects and send them over to us,” Hok Lundy said, adding that he discussed the case with Thailand’s national police chief.
“If the [UN High Commissioner for Refugees] is protecting them, that is an issue, however the court has already issued warrants for the suspects, so the authorities will have to cooperate with any government they have ratified [an extradition treaty] with,” he said, adding: “When they arrest them, then they will send them over the border for us to take them.”
Hok Lundy said the Cambodian judiciary is working on arrest warrants for border critics Choup Kampuchea of the Cambodian Border Protection Organization and Pang Sokhouen of the Student Movement of Democracy.
Thai Ambassador Piyawat Niyomrerks said Thailand is committed to honoring any request made in accordance with the extradition treaty. “The treaty specifies which offenses are extraditable,” he said, though he could not recall whether it included criminal defamation.
Deborah Backus, UNHCR spokeswoman, said the UNHCR had no information on the men that it could release.
US Embassy spokesman John Daigle said the Embassy “continue[s] to be concerned about the arrest and threat of arrest of people on criminal defamation charges merely for voicing opposing views.”
Kem Sokha, director of Cambodian Center for Human Rights, said Thailand should think about whether the extradition treaty should apply.
“I don’t know if the UNHCR is protecting them but if they are, I think the Thai government will respect the international rule of law,” he said: “This is only defamation.”
A copy of the treaty could not be obtained Friday, but the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in 1998 that it does not cover political crimes.