Rights Groups Warned Not To Help SRP Officials

CPP government adviser Sok Pheng warned human rights groups not to protect two SRP officials wanted by the Kompong Thom Provincial Court for their in­volvement in the supposed illegal con­finement of a former SRP commune councilor, according to a statement received Thursday.

The statement, which was read on local television stations Wed­nesday evening, appealed to rights groups not to help Sralao commune councilor Men Vannak and Thorn Rithy, deputy chief of the SRP’s Kompong Thom provincial council. Both men are wanted for allegedly illegally detaining Tim Norm, formerly an SRP commune councilor for Baray commune, because she wanted to defect to the CPP.

The provincial court has already charged SRP Pongro commune chief Thuon Saron for his involvement in the alleged crime.

“If the human rights groups protect [the SRP officials] it means that they have actively participated in the abuse against people’s rights,” Sok Pheng, a former SRP lawmaker, wrote.

He went on to accuse the SRP of spreading fear among CPP officials and accused Thorn Rithy of “systematic intimidation,” accusations more typically made by the SRP against the ruling party.

The SRP also issued a statement Thursday calling on the Kompong Thom court to release Thuon Saron and accusing the court of only acting on accusations made by Prime Minister Hun Sen during a Monday speech.

“Thuon Saron was arrested a day after the prime minister ordered the court to take actions against him,” the statement said, adding that the arrest demonstrates “the power the prime minister has over the court.”

Provincial Prosecutor Ty Sovan­nthal could not be reached for comment Thursday. Officials from local rights group Licadho declined to comment on the statement, and officials from Adhoc could not be reached for comment.

CPP National Assembly First Vice President Nguon Nhel denied that Hun Sen had interfered with the court.

“It was not an interference over the judicial system because Samdech [Hun Sen] only requested the investigation. When the prosecutors see enough evidence, they issue charges,” he said.

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