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3 Apr 2020

Jillian Louis, The ASEAN Post

Cambodia: Rights group concerns over govt.'s aggressive measures to contain the Covid-19 pandemic; while minority groups face discrimination

"COVID-19 and Cambodia’s human rights concerns", 2 April 2020

…, Cambodia's Prime Minister, Hun Sen, made a televised statement about the spread of misinformation regarding the COVID-19 virus outbreak originating from Wuhan, China. He also threatened to “kick out” reporters or officials seen wearing a face mask.

… Hun Sen called for citizens not to discriminate against the Chinese, as the country hosts many Chinese investors and tourists. “There is no one who died, and not a single Cambodian contracting the virus, it happened only to a Chinese man," he reassured. 

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported 17 arrests made since late January for sharing information about the coronavirus in Cambodia... A 14-year-old girl who expressed fears on social media about rumours of positive COVID-19 cases at her school was also arrested and questioned. 12 of those arrested have so far been released from detention after signing pledges to not spread “fake news” in the future and to apologise…

As of 1 April, 2020, Cambodia has a total of 109 COVID-19 cases – 49 locals and 60 foreigners – with zero deaths reported. Like all the 203 countries affected by the outbreak – excluding China – cases of COVID-19 started with imports which then led to local transmissions…

Human rights issues should be dealt with immediately by the Cambodian government; clearing the air of any blame or prejudice for the outbreak against any one group. The crisis that the entire global community is currently facing is indiscriminatory in nature, possessing the potential to wreak further chaos and disruptions in our socio-economic environment without systematic efforts by governments to contain it.