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Article

18 Aug 2021

Author:
CamboJA

Cambodia: Union leader Rong Chhun sentenced to two years imprisonment for Facebook comments; CSOs and embassies express disappointment over guilty verdict

"Union leader Rong Chhun sentenced to two years over border comments", 18 August 2021

Union leader Rong Chhun was convicted and sentenced to two years in prison on incitement charges … for comments he made suggesting that a community along the Vietnam border had lost land during the frontier’s demarcation. Activists Sar Kanika and Ton Nimol were both sentenced to 20 months in prison on charges of incitement to cause social disorder for having publicly called for the imprisoned unionist’s release.

When municipal court judge Le Sokha announced the verdict, all three defendants cried out that the sentence was unjust, with Chhun saying that the court’s decision was ordered by the government…

All three defendants will also be fined 2 million riel [roughly 490USD] each and ordered to pay 400 million riel [roughly 98,000USD] in compensation to the Cambodian Border Affairs Committee, the body responsible for overseeing the demarcation of the nation’s borders.

… In a Facebook post responding to the verdict, US ambassador W. Patrick Murphy said that Rong Chhun’s conviction raises “serious questions about freedom of speech protected in Cambodia’s constitution and essential to the functioning of a democracy”.

“The judicial system should not be abused to silence peaceful activists,” he wrote.

British ambassador Tina Redshaw echoed his worry, posting on Twitter that she was “seriously concerned and disappointed to hear [the] sentencing of Rong Chhun”.

“Freedom of expression is protected in Cambodia’s constitution and the judiciary shouldn’t be used to curtail it,” she wrote. “Strong governments are open to hearing and engaging with a range of views from all of society.”

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