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Cambodia Dismisses UN Rights Chief Statements

A government spokesman on Wednesday dismissed as “personal” statements by the UN’s top human rights official, who had criticized a defamation case against opposition lawmaker Mu Sochua.

Speaking in Geneva on Tuesday, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said the case brought against Mu Sochua by Prime Minister Hun Sen was highly politicized and showed a weakening of the judiciary and basic freedoms in the country.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan said Wednesday the comments were “a personal view and do not reflect the reality of Cambodia.”

Mu Sochua, a lawmaker for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, is facing the prospect of jail time if she does not pay compensation to the prime minister and a fine to the court.

She has said she will not pay.

She lost a defamation suit brought by Hun Sen after she had sued him for allegedly making disparaging and sexist remarks in public speeches last year. The Supreme Court upheld the decision in June.

In Geneva, Pillay’s spokesman, Rupert Colville, said the verdict was not warranted.

“No evidence providing either damage to reputation or malicious intent was presented during the case against Mu Sochua,” he said.