NGOs Report on the Cambodian Authorities’ Use of the Courts to Silence People

Lawsuits become a means to warn them against criticizing government action, they say.

Four Cambodian civil society organizations have released a joint newsletter entitled “Factsheet: Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation,” which says that the Cambodian government has been using legal strategies against public participation that are intended to discourage, intimidate and suppress criticism.

According the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR), the Solidarity Center, the International Center for Free Law (ICNL) and the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC), the government and powerful individuals have used “strategic lawsuits against public participation”—or SLAPPs—to stifle citizen engagement through fear of incarceration and financial burdens as such lawsuits subject individuals to legal costs and large fines.

“SLAPPs are used as an intimidation tactic to scare individuals, civil society actors, community leaders, journalists, whistleblowers, and human rights defenders into silence,” they said. “The vast majority of these were brought by the RGC [Royal Government of Cambodia], RGC officials, or the judiciary, and frequently targeted multiple individuals.”

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