Opposition Petitions Council for Kem Sokha

Sixteen Funcinpec and Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians have written to the Constitutional Council asking the nation’s top legal body to intervene in the criminal investigation of opposition activist and former parliamentarian Kem Sokha.

“We have received news that there is a summons for [Kem Sokha] issued after he finished his parliamentary post,” wrote the new Assembly members, who included Funcinpec stalwarts Ahmad Yahya and Lu Laysreng as well as Sam Rainsy Party representative Son Chhay.

“This summons is political retaliation against him which we all cannot recognize or support,” the parliamentarians wrote.

Kem Sokha is in hiding and has failed to answer two summons to municipal court for questioning.

Officials at the US Embassy in Phnom Penh have declined to comment on claims that it has been providing protection for Kem Sokha.

A senior Cambodian government official made that assertion last week, and US Congressman Dana Rohrabacher said during a congressional session over the weekend that Kem Sokha “is being provided asylum by the [US] embassy.”

The former chairman of the National Assembly human rights commission, Kem Sokha is un­der investigation for inciting racial hatred and damage to state property related to his participation in last month’s anti-government demonstrations.

The court summons was is­sued soon after the first National Assembly’s term ended. Kem Sokha’s Son Sann Party has no seats in the new parliament.

During protests, demonstrators vandalized the Cam­bodia-Vietnam Liberation Monu­ment following politicians’ references to the CPP-dominated government as a “Vietnamese puppet.”

The Funcinpec and Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians argued in their letter that Kem Sokha should be covered by his parliamentary immunity because he was still a National Assembly member at the time of the demonstrations.

“If the court can do this, that means the parliamentarians in power do not dare to speak or criticize or express their view affecting the leaders. If this [court] procedure is to be maintained…it will affect the other parliamentarians,” they wrote.

Article 80 of the Constitution states that “No Assembly member shall be prosecuted, detained or arrested because of opinions expressed during the exercise of his or her duties.”


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