opposition leader Kem Sokha sentenced to 27 years in prison

He is accused of conspiring with foreign forces. ASEAN human rights parliamentarians opposed the ruling, calling it an “act of pure revenge by Prime Minister Hun Sen.” And they stressed that the elections scheduled for July – the first without parliamentary opposition – “will not be free or democratic.”

Phnom Penh () – “An act of pure revenge by the Hun Sen regime that has nothing to do with justice.” In this way the democratic parliamentarians of ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, immediately crossed out the sentence handed down by the Phnom Penh court against opposition leader Kem Sokha.

A longtime activist and founder of the now dissolved Cambodian National Salvation Party, Sokha was sentenced to 27 years of house arrest for “treason”.

Specifically, he was accused of conspiring with foreign forces (the United States) for subversive purposes. The sentence will exclude Kem from any political initiative ahead of next July’s elections, the first without parliamentary opposition to Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party.

US Ambassador W. Patrick Murphy, present in the courtroom, stated that “the United States is deeply shocked by the conviction of a political leader of the caliber of Kem Sokha.” Last August, during a visit to Cambodia, the Secretary of State, Antony Bliken, had met with Kem Sokha and had clarified Washington’s concern to Hun Sen.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, said he was stunned by the verdict and “concerned about the substantiation of the accusations and the development of the trial.” He called for the immediate release of the convicted person and the guarantee that he be they will respect your rights, including those to a fair trial and full participation in political life.

“Authoritarianism won,” said Phil Robertson, regional director for Human Rights Watch.

The imprisonment of the main opponent remaining in the country to contrast the overwhelming power of the prime minister, formally subordinate to the sovereign Norodom Sihamoni (who actually has an almost symbolic role), closes a trajectory in which Hun Sen, in power for Forty years, he expelled all political and social opposition, ignoring international pressure and using bribery, collusion and often intimidation to break Parliament and the judiciary. The magistrates in charge of judging this case (and previous ones, against other political opponents) are members of Hun Sen’s party.

“No one should be fooled into believing that it is possible to hold free and fair elections in Cambodia in the current situation. With so many opposition figures jailed or in exile and the continued crackdown on the opposition, the vote will only be a sham with which Hun Sen and his party seek to legitimize their power. The international community must not fall for such a deception,” warned Mercy Barends, chairperson of the ASEAN Parliamentary Group on Human Rights.

Source link