Cambodia’s Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected a request for bail in the case against opposition lawmaker Um Sam An, who was jailed earlier this year on incitement charges related to comments he has made about the demarcation of the border with Vietnam.
Analysts and opposition members said the decision contravened Sam An’s right to parliamentary immunity.
Sam Sok Kong, Sam An’s lawyer, said: “The court rejected bail for Sam An. We will continue to argue for bail.”
Son Chhay, the Cambodia National Rescue Party’s chief whip, said Sam An’s continued detention, which the opposition argues is in breach of his parliamentary immunity, “proved that the government is not willing to respect the law.”
“Using their power to prevent the opposition politicians and human rights workers from doing their job is wrong,” he added, referring to several members of his party and independent rights workers who have been jailed in recent months.
Sam An is being held under Article 205 of the criminal code, which allows for detention without bail if there is a concern that the defendant’s release could “endanger public order.”
Sam An, an American citizen, was detained in April after he made comments on Facebook about the line of demarcation between Cambodia and Vietnam.
Political analyst Ou Virak said the court could “withhold his passport and release him” if it viewed him as a flight risk, adding that the lawmaker was detained before an arrest warrant was issued in breach of the country’s laws.
Some 17 other opposition members and activists are also in jail, including Sam Rainsy Party Senator Hong Sok Hour, who has been charged with the same offense as Sam An.