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3 Apr 2020

Amnesty International

Cambodia: Amnesty International says at least 22 arrests related to allegation of fake news on the Covid-19; while voicing concerns over overcrowded detention centers

"Cambodia: Overcrowded detention centres a ticking time bomb for COVID-19 amid raft of “fake news” arrests", 27 March 2020

Overcrowded and squalid prisons and detention centres risk becoming detonators for a major COVID-19 outbreak in Cambodia that will make the pandemic much harder to control, said Amnesty International today, amid a mounting crackdown on people detained for “causing scares” by talking about the outbreak on social media.

“Instead of addressing the overcrowding crisis in detention centres, Cambodian authorities have used the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to further harass and detain government critics,” said Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s Regional Director. “Meanwhile, Cambodian prisons and drug detention centres are dangerously overcrowded and lack even the most basic health services. They are a ticking time bomb for the country and potentially its neighbours.”

At least seven people have been charged and sent to pre-trial detention amid a crackdown on allegedly “false” information related to COVID-19, ...  In total, at least 22 people have been arrested in relation to sharing information about Covid-19 since January, with the majority released without charge after signing pledges to refrain from spreading false information online.

…, Prime Minister Hun Sen stated that he was considering invoking Article 22 of the Constitution in order to declare a state of emergency and warned that human rights could be further restricted as a result.

… “The Cambodian government appear more focused on using this pandemic to silence its critics rather than protecting its people and their right to adequate health care. The Cambodian authorities must cease their harassment of critics and address the urgent health needs of all people in Cambodia,” said Nicholas Bequelin…