Local and international right groups have asked French President François Hollande to pressure Prime Minister Hun Sen to release 21 activists ahead of an official visit by the premier this weekend.
Since July, authorities have detained and imprisoned four environmental rights advocates, 14 members and supporters of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, one senator from the opposition, two Buddhist monks, and one student.
“They have all been deprived of their liberty for merely exercising the rights guaranteed by international human rights instruments,” the groups said in a statement. “After a blatantly unfair trial, 11 of the 14 CNRP members and supporters were sentenced to prison terms ranging from seven to 20 years, on charges relating to insurrection, for participating in a demonstration calling for the respect of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly in Phnom Penh a year earlier.”
Meanwhile, Sen. Hong Sok Hour, who holds dual French-Cambodian citizenship, “remains detained on various trumped-up and politically motivated charges after posting a video on Facebook that unbeknown to him contained images of an inaccurate reproduction of a historical document pertaining to the Vietnam-Cambodia border,” the groups said.
The groups also expressed concerns over the NGO law, which would create more restrictions on their work, as well as concerns over a draft law to regulate unions.