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Article

3 Apr 2020

Author:
Narim Khuon, Khmer Times

Cambodia: PM warns senior NGO staff of arrest over comments on govt.'s measures to arrest & educate online users over fake news on Covid-19 pandemic

"Hun Sen blasts rights defender over comments", 31 March 2020

Prime Minister Hun Sen has criticised Licadho’s Am Sam Ath over statements the latter made about security measures the government has taken amid COVID-19 fears.

Mr Sam Ath ... stated over 24 people have been arrested by the authorities for expressing their opinions about the novel coronavirus on Facebook. He said this action has made people fear about reporting the truth.

Mr Hun Sen during a press conference ... responded by saying: “Am Sam Ath of Licadho, you must be careful with what you say. [The statement] was not freedom of expression.”

“[The country] is not yet placed in a state of emergency, but I can have you arrested because you are complicit to illegal acts in Cambodia,” he added, ...

Mr Sam Ath, who is deputy director of the rights group, ... explained in a YouTube video his intention was not to support criminals...

“I support the government’s law enforcement measures and the authorities have correctly followed the law,” he said, adding he will cooperate with the government, calling on the public to unite and fight COVID-19...

Government spokesman Phay Siphan said Mr Sam Ath’s clarification video on YouTube is welcomed...

Chak Sopheap, executive director of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights, ... said the government must protect human rights in the Kingdom, including by shielding human rights defenders ...

“The threat of arrest against [Mr Sam Ath] for promoting respect to the fundamental right of freedom of expression, as enshrined in both domestic and international legislation, is extremely troubling,” Ms Sopheap said...

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