Treason trials the latest in the country’s slide to autocracy

If you are simply going on the number of political trials in Cambodia at the moment, the country would seem to be politically unstable – a hotbed of unrest. Hundreds of people are on trial for incitement, conspiracy, and violence endangering the nation. But the prime minister, Hun Sen, who has been in power since 1985, regularly insists that his tenure has been characterised by peace, stability and development – despite internal and external threats. He is the world’s longest-serving head of government.

Stable or not, more than 100 people were summoned to attend Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Thursday November 26 2020 on charges including violence endangering Cambodian institutions (Article 451 Criminal Code), conspiracy (Article 453) and incitement to commit a felony (Article 495). The cases were immediately adjourned until 2021.

This marks the latest event following a series of arrests over the past 18 months of people affiliated with the former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), raising alarm among civil society organisations including ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights, national organisations, Forum Asia and Human Rights Watch.

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