PHNOM PENH - Chan Saveth, a senior investigator for the rights group Adhoc, has received a summons from Phnom Penh Municipal Court to answer questions related to allegations he helped an alleged secessionist leave the country.
He is accused of aiding Bun Rotha, a village activist who helped organize a land protest in Kratie province in May that authorities have claimed was an uprising against the government.
That protest, which led to a violent crackdown by the authorities, and an alleged secessionist movement associated with it have been cited in the detention of Mam Sonando, the owner of Beehive Radio.
Chan Saveth, who is 44, said he appears to have been charged with crimes already, though the specific crimes remain unclear. “Based on the subpoena my wife read to me, it means I have been charged already, on what crime I don’t know,” he told VOA Khmer by phone.
He said he will answer the summons for Aug. 24, he said. “As a human right worker working to serve society, I will go to the court to answer before the court,” he said.
The summons appears related to a public speech by Prime Minister Hun Sen, in which he announced a human rights worker had aided Bun Rotha by providing shelter and about $75 to help him flee the country in the wake of a crackdown on the Kratie protest.
However, rights workers say Bun Rotha has never been officially charged, so even if he did receive aid from a group or individual, no crime would have been committed.
Lao Monghay, an independent political analyst, said the summons will create more fear among rights workers and hinder their work. “People will fear being charged and criminalized when they make friends with others,” he said.