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U.N. Human Rights Representative Visits Border Activists in Prison

U.N. special representative on human rights Yash Ghai was on a visit in Phnom Penh on November 28.

He went to see Mr. Cheam Channy, opposition Sam Rainsy party lawmaker at the military court, Mr. Rong Chhun, president of Cambodian Independent Teachers Association, and Mr. Mam Sonando, owner of Beehive 105 FM radio station, at Prey Sar prison.

He says that he saw the prisoners with his own eyes and will report their living condition to U.N. General Secretary Kofi Annan upon his return to the U.S.

Mr. Cheam was sentenced to 7 years in prison on charges of forming an illegal armed group. Mr. Mam and Mr. Rong were charged of incitation and defaming the government on border issues.

In a press conference Monday (December 5), Mr. Ghai says that he plans to see Prime Minister Hun Sen, and Minister of Interior, Sar Kheng, and discuss about the detentions. The plan was scrapped.

Mr. Ghai says that a lot of detainees and prisoners live together in very small cells and a lot of people smoke. He says that the prisoners receive medical attention but that it is very minimal.

He adds that they are not allowed to listen to radios, read newspapers or meet with their lawyers. He says he met with the prisons' chiefs and asked them to let the inmates listen to radios and read papers.

Mr. Khieu Kanharith, government spokesman and Mr. Om Yentieng, Prime Minister Hun Sen's special adviser cannot be reached for comment.