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10 Jul 2024

Permanent Mission of Cambodia to UN

Cambodia: Amid international criticism of recent conviction of environmental rights defenders, Permanent Mission of Cambodia to UN in Geneva defends govt. actions

"Cambodia Rebuts UN Criticism Over Sentencing of Environmental Activists", 10 July 2024

The Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Cambodia to the United Nations in Geneva has issued a press statement in response to comments made by Thameen Al-Kheetan, spokesperson for the UN Human Rights Office, regarding the sentencing of environmental activists by the Cambodian court.

The Cambodian mission condemned Al-Kheetan’s remarks as "baseless and misleading," asserting that the proceedings against the ten activists adhered to legal standards. It emphasized that the activists were not prosecuted for their environmental advocacy but for charges of plotting against the government and insulting the King, based on offenses committed ...

Highlights of the Statement:

  1. Legality of Charges: The mission stressed that the charges were grounded in Articles 437bis and 453 of the Cambodian Criminal Code. It affirmed that the activists were granted full legal rights, including counsel and a fair trial.
  2. Rule of Law and Accountability: The statement underscored that Cambodia, like other democracies, prosecutes individuals based on their actions rather than their affiliations. The mission argued that characterizing law enforcement as "deeply worrying" undermines the rule of law and equal justice under the Cambodian Constitution.
  3. Judicial Independence: The mission criticized calls for reviewing the charges as prejudiced against the Cambodian judiciary. It maintained that the court’s decisions were based on concrete evidence and due process. It acknowledged that six defendants were minors at the time of the offenses but noted that Cambodian law holds minors criminally responsible under certain conditions.
  4. Criminal Code Revisions: The statement rebuffed calls to amend the Criminal Code, asserting that it was crafted with input from Western legal experts and broad stakeholder consultation. It highlighted ongoing judicial reforms aimed at modernizing Cambodian laws to ensure efficiency and consistency…