NGOs Urge Thai Gov’t to Release Sok Yoeun

A group of local human rights NGOs urged the Thai government to free opposition activist Sok Yoeun, days after a Thai ap­peals court ordered his extradition to Cambodia.

In a statement received Tues­day, the 17 NGOs—including Licadho, Adhoc and the Cam­bodian Defenders Project—also called for the Cambodian government to drop its request for Sok Yoeun’s extradition.

“In accordance with international human rights and refugee law, and for humanitarian reasons, this man should be freed immediately to be reunited with his family,” Thun Saray, president of Adhoc said in the statement.

If Sok Yoeun is extradited, he will face charges related to a 1998 rocket-propelled-grenade attack on Prime Minister Hun Sen’s motorcade in Siem Reap town, which killed one bystander but left Hun Sen and his entourage unharmed.

Sok Yoeun was arrested in 1999 in Thailand, where he fled after the attack and was sentenced for entering the country illegally.

Amnesty International, which has listed Sok Yoeun as a prisoner of conscience, last week de­cried the court’s decision to extradite him. Reported to be in ill health, he has been recognized as a political refugee by the UN High Commissioner for Refu­gees.

In the statement, the NGOs said they believe “the extradition request made by the Cambodian government to be politically motivated” and charges against Sok Yoeun are not supported by evidence. Under Thai law, he may be returned to Cambodia any time after Dec 13, the NGOs said.

 

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