Cambodian court charges two journalists with espionage

Lawrence Kim
November 18, 2017

The United States also issued a statement expressing "grave concern about the Cambodian government's dissolution of the country's main opposition party. based on meritless and politicised allegations".

The widening crackdown on critical voices is viewed as a way for Hun Sen to cement his almost 30-year rule ahead of elections next year.

"The government of Cambodia has taken a series of steps to weaken political opposition and undermine democratic institutions, human rights and freedom of expression", the MA delegation wrote to Tillerson.

Hun Sen, 65, is one of the world's longest serving leaders, first taking office as prime minister of Cambodia in 1985.

The same month, the independent English-language newspaper The Cambodia Daily was forced to shut down after being accused of not paying a huge tax bill - a charge it said was politically motivated.

They requested an update on the State Department's efforts to persuade Hen Sen to "cease harassment and intimidation of Cambodia's main opposition party, to secure the immediate and unconditional release of Mr. Kem Sokha, and to respect the freedom of the press and the rights of all Cambodians to freely and peacefully assemble, protest, and criticize the government".

The chief judge who read Thursday's unanimous and completely expected Supreme Court ruling against the Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) is a senior member of the ruling Cambodia People's Party (CPP).

The reporters were detained on Tuesday night, days before Cambodia's main opposition party was dissolved over accusations it conspired with the U.S. in a treason plot.

Almost one million Cambodians work in its garment and footwear industry, one of the largest in the Cambodian economy. "This is not unsafe to the country", said the lawyer, Keo Vanny.

On the same day of the Cambodia Supreme Court decision, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution in support of democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Cambodia. They also urged Hun Sen to stop harassing and intimidating Cambodia's opposition. Despite Prime Minister Hun Sen's prior commitments to hold free and fair elections in Cambodia, it is now clear that as long as he remains in power, democracy will never be given an opportunity to flourish.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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