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Cambodia: UN independent experts express ongoing concerns over detention of and reprisal against human rights defenders

"UN expresses concerns over detention of rights activists", 10 January 2021

Six UN human rights experts have requested that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation clarify the details surrounding the arrest, detention, “intimidation, surveillance, threats and excessive use of force” against 15 Cambodian rights activists.

In response, a Cambodian government official explained that all measures taken had been done in accordance with Cambodian law.

In a 17-page letter, UN human rights experts including Rhona Smith – the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Cambodia – expressed their concern regarding both the detention of 11 activists and the charges brought against them, and intimidation on others.

The detained activists include those from women’s rights organisations and others who, according to the UN letter, appear to have been charged in relation to the exercise of their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly and association…

“Individuals should never be arrested or criminally prosecuted for their peaceful participation in assemblies. The excessive use of force against human rights defenders and those participating in peaceful demonstrations is also cause for serious concern,” the UN experts wrote.

… But Ministry of Justice spokesman Chin Malin said it was normal for [UN officials] to express their concerns after receiving complaints or reports sent to them on behalf of the accused parties. He said the government would explain each of the cases to them.

Malin said the cases raised by the UN experts are now in the hands of the courts following investigations by the police…

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