Hok Lundy: Thais Will Try to Arrest Critics

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.

 

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