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Human Rights Watch Calls for Charges Against Opposition Officials to Be Dropped


FILE - In this June 2, 2017, file photo, opposition party Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) leader Kem Sokha greets his supporters at a rally in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Dozens of opposition supporters gathered outside the court on Wednesday during proceedings and without incident.

Human Rights Watch has called on Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government to drop cases against more than 20 officials of the now-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) who are being investigated for allegedly violating a Supreme Court ruling that banned party members from politics for five years.

The CNRP, which was the largest opposition party in Cambodia, was dissolved by the Supreme Court on November 16, 2017 over claims that the party, with the backing of the United States, sought to topple the government. The United States denied the allegations.

In a statement on Tuesday, Human Rights Watch’s Brad Adams said: “The Cambodian government continues to harass numerous opposition officials in the courts and to threaten them with prison time long after the main opposition party was unjustifiably disbanded.”

“The government should immediately end the political harassment campaign against the CNRP and drop this latest batch of absurd court cases,” he added.

Five CNRP officials appeared at the Battambang provincial court on Wednesday.

Heng Luy, the court spokesman, said the court was following up on complaints that had been filed by police officers.

“What they think is up to them. But according to the law, it must be done in this way. If we don’t do that, it means that we are doing something wrong. How can we know what is wrong and right if we don’t ask them?” he said.

Ton Samorn, former CNRP Wat Kor commune chief, who appeared at the court on Wednesday, said the questioning had focused on a meeting held at a noodle shop.

“They want to weaken out mental capacity by not letting us walk, know, and hear about anything. They always do that. It’s a mindset and intention of the communists,” he said.

Dozens of opposition supporters gathered outside the court on Wednesday during proceedings and without incident.

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