Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday announced he was launching a legal campaign against Facebook users who insult him on the social media platform.
He said he had instructed his lawyers to pursue Cambodians who were judged to have insulted him with claims of as much as $2 million.
“I am asking my lawyers to study filling complaints. You insult me via Facebook. You must know that your property is in the country. You are outside the country, but your property is inside the country. I will confiscate all of it, only when the court rules that I am the winner of the case. This is a message for you,” he said.
He added that he would donate the proceeds from the seized assets to charity, but did not name any individuals who would be targeted.
“If you post more, we will have more work to do, collecting evidence, confiscating your properties, demanding no less than $2 million,” he said.
In recent years, several Cambodians have been detained for “insulting” Hun Sen publicly on social media. In April 2017, Som Sokha, a labor activist, was charged after she posted a video online of her throwing her sandal at a billboard depicting Hun Sen and Heng Samrin, president of the National Assembly. In January, Kong Mas, a former opposition official, was also arrested for criticizing the government over its handling of negotiations with the European Union over rice import tariffs.
Ky Tech, Hun Sen’s senior lawyer, declined to comment on the details of the plans.
Am Sam Ath, chief of local rights group Licadho’s investigations unit, said the threat likely referred to leading members of the former opposition party, which was disbanded by the Supreme Court in 2017.
But the threat would not sit well with the European Union, he added, which has tied Cambodia’s continued membership of an important preferential trading scheme to improvements in democracy and human rights.