Cambodia Using Coronavirus to Justify ‘Arbitrary Arrests’ of Opposition, Critics: HRW

Authorities in Cambodia are using the coronavirus to carry out “arbitrary arrests” of opposition supporters and government critics, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Wednesday, noting that at least 30 people have been detained for spreading “fake news” and other offenses since the start of the pandemic.

In a statement, the New York-based rights group urged Cambodia’s government to “immediately and unconditionally drop the charges against all those accused of crimes in violation of their rights to freedom of expression and association.”

While the number of cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, has held steady at 122 with no deaths for more than two weeks, Cambodia’s one-party parliament recently approved legislation authorizing a state of emergency to contain the spread of the virus that observers have warned could be used to unnecessarily increase already heavy restrictions on freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly.

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