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EU Condemns ‘Political’ Court Actions, Rights Abuses

  • Kong Sothanarith
  • VOA Khmer

The European Union on Friday called on Cambodia to immediately release jailed Beehive Radio owner Mam Sonando, while condemning political court actions and ongoing rightrs abuses.

PHNOM PENH - The European Union on Friday called on Cambodia to immediately release jailed Beehive Radio owner Mam Sonando, while condemning political court actions and ongoing rightrs abuses.

In a resolution on human rights passed last week, the EU lawmakers said Cambodia must reinforce its commitment to democracy and the respect of human rights.

Cambodia benefits from preferred trade agreements with the EU, which is a major market for its goods.

Mam Sonando has been in jail since his arrest in July and subsequent conviction on charges he helped foment a secessionist movement earlier this year, a charge he denies. Many rights groups have denounced the charges as a political attack on a journalist and media owner who is critical of the government.

European parliamentarians said in a statement they “are alarmed by the politically motivated sentences and convictions against political critics, land activists and human rights defenders in Cambodia.

"The EU parliament “urged the Cambodian government to cease all forced land evictions until a transparent and accountable framework guaranteeing adequate compensation and suitable alternative accommodation is in place. It also wants to see a reform of the electoral system.”

Parliamentarians condemned “all sentencing” based on political motivation, including charges against opposition leader Sam Rainsy, who is in exile abroad and faces at least 10 years in jail terms if he returns to Cambodia.

The lawmakers also censured Cambodia for the deaths of environmentalist Chut Wutty and of Heng Chantha, a 14-year-old girl shot by security forces in a crackdown on protesting villagers in Kratie province in May. And they censured Cambodia for continued forced evictions.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan called the resolution “out of date” and “not a law.”

“Cambodia is not under EU colonization,” he said.

However, Am Sam Ath, lead investigator for the rights group Licahdo, said the resolution “reflects the reality” of Cambodia. The government should consider the EU’s recommendations, he said.
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