Cambodian authorities should immediately and unconditionally drop bogus treason charges against the political opposition leader Kem Sokha, Human Rights Watch said today. On December 2, 2019, a Phnom Penh court sent his case, pending since September 2017, to trial which will start on January 15, 2020.
“The case against Kem Sokha has always been a dubious excuse to attack the political opposition,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director. “Prime Minister Hun Sen needs to demonstrate to the European Union that he is genuinely prepared to end his campaign of political repression of opposition voices.”
On November 10, the Cambodian authorities lifted Kem Sokha’s judicial supervision arrangement, which amounted to house arrest and arbitrary detention. The action came two days before the European Union (EU) delivered its preliminary conclusions on Cambodia’s non-compliance with international human rights treaties and core International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions in its review of Cambodia’s actions under the “Everything But Arms” (EBA) trade treaty. The EU will determine by February 12, 2020 whether Cambodia’s rights record has improved sufficiently to avoid losing the tariff-free entry to the EU market for Cambodian goods under the treaty.