A prominent US human rights group on Friday urged the US to take tough action on Cambodia for its harsh moves against government critics.
“Human Rights Watch urges [US President] Obama to openly challenge Prime Minister Hun Sen’s increasing authoritarian practices, in which he and other ruling party officials use violence, threats, and the country’s notoriously corrupt judiciary to silence and imprison opposition party members, journalists, land rights activists, and other government critics,” Human Rights Watch said in a statement.
The statement was made just two days before President Barack Obama is due to meet Asean leaders on Sunday, after attending the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Singapore.
“This statement is unrealistic and untrue. It has a political intention to attack the government,” said Phay Siphan, secretary of state and spokesman for the Council of Ministers.
Phay Siphan said that what was raised in the statement is ruthless and not honest with a “bad intention to unfairly slander the government of Cambodia”.
But opposition party welcomes the statement.
“I thank Human Rights Watch for helping to remind the US President Barack Obama who is the leader of a superpower to pay attention to the rights and freedom of Cambodian people and democracy in Cambodia,” said Kem Sokha, president of the Human Rights Party, calling the government to accept criticism.
Opposition leader Sam Rainsy will be the third member of parliament to lose his immunity this year following an allegedly pulling out border markers with Vietnam. Two other opposition parliamentarians Mu Sokhua and Ho Vann have been stripped off their immunity for criticizing premier Hun Sen and military officers.
The editor of an opposition Khmer Mchas Srok newspaper was sentenced to one year jail term for writing on corruption issues.