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Global Witness: Gov’t Must Ensure Safety of Critics


Hundreds of thousands of Cambodians march at a funeral procession, for Kem Ley, heading to his homeland in Takeo province, Sunday July 24, 2016. (Leng Len/VOA Khmer)

Hundreds of thousands of Cambodians march at a funeral procession, for Kem Ley, heading to his homeland in Takeo province, Sunday July 24, 2016. (Leng Len/VOA Khmer)

Global Witness has written an open letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen appealing to the government to ensure the safety of activists and human rights workers in Cambodia.

Transparency watchdog Global Witness has written an open letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen appealing to the government to ensure the safety of activists and human rights workers following the killing of a prominent government critic last month.

The letter comes after the organization released a report in July detailing the vast business empire of Hun Sen’s family, which was followed shortly afterwards by the daylight murder of prominent political analyst Kem Ley.

Ley had in the days prior to his death given two radio interviews regarding the report’s contents, which were widely listened to across the country. Since the murder, there have been reports of harassment of his colleagues and two of his associates have fled the country and sought refuge abroad.

Global Witness co-founder Patrick Alley wrote in the letter that it was “the duty of a democratic government to protect the rights and security of its citizens, including those who criticize it.”

“As a signatory of numerous human rights conventions, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, we call on your government to guarantee the safety of these individuals and those who support them, and respect their right to freedom of speech,” he wrote.

Alley also added to calls for a thorough, independent investigation into Ley’s murder.

“The hundreds of thousands of Cambodian citizens who took to the streets for his funeral procession, together with the widespread international condemnation of the killing, should leave you in no doubt that anything short of an independent investigation will lack any credibility,” he said.

Sok Eysan, a ruling party spokesman, said the investigation was ongoing, adding that it would be completed “as quickly as possible.”

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