UN human rights expert calls on Cambodian govt. over ‘alarming’ rise in arrests


The Cambodian government is called upon by a UN human rights expert to respect its citizens’ rights of freedom of opinion, expression and assembly, amid concerns over escalating tensions and a political crackdown across the country.

More than 200 cases of harassment and judicial action against members or supporters of the outlawed Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) have been reported since January.

Rhona Smith, UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Cambodia appointed by the Human Rights Council, reported on Friday that nearly 89 people were charged with ‘plotting against the State’ and more than 50 have been arrested.

“The rapid increase in numbers of arrests and serious charges filed against CNRP members is alarming,” said Ms Smith.

Meanwhile, the CNRP former leader Sam Rainsy, who has been in self-imposed exile, has vowed to return to Cambodia on Saturday. However, Prime Minister Hun Sen said he will be arrested on arrival, having been convicted in absentia and sentenced to jail.

Besides the arrests, civil society groups in Cambodia also have reported increased surveillance and monitoring by local authorities. There has also been a significant increase in the deployment of armed forces at border checkpoints and various villages.

Ms. Smith is also concerned that some CNRP members in nearby countries have been detained after attempting to travel to Cambodia. (Source: UN News)