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UN Calls for Immediate Release of Jailed Former Cambodia Opposition Leader

A supporter of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party wears party president Kem Sokha portrait poster read ing"Free" as she stands outside the Supreme Court in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017. The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the lower court's decision to continue detaining opposition leader Kem Sokha, who has been charged with treason, the latest in a series of moves to gain an advantage ahead of next year's general election. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

There are concerns for Kem Sokha’s health after he suffered a damaged shoulder, high blood pressure, and hyperglycemia.

The United Nations and a major human rights group have demanded the immediate release of Cambodia’s jailed former opposition leader, Kem Sokha, calling his imprisonment “inhumane” and “shameful”.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) said in a statement on Wednesday that Sokha’s arrest and continued detention violated the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international agreements.

"WGAD also found that international norms relating to Kem Sokha’s right to a fair trial were not observed. While the WGAD emphasized the fact that Kem Sokha should not be tried because his detention is arbitrary, it's nonetheless considered that his right to a fair trial was violated,” the groups said.

It added that WGAD and FIDH were concerned by Sokha’s health after suffering from a damaged shoulder, high blood pressure, and hyperglycemia.

“The eight-month pre-trial detention of Kem Sokha is not only arbitrary but also shameful and inhumane. Kem Sokha did not commit any crime and is being punished exclusively for his unwavering fight for democracy. He must be immediately released, along with all other detained opposition members and supporters,” said Debbie Stothard, secretary general of FIDH.

Phay Siphan, a government spokesman, could not be reached for comment.

Ruling Cambodian People’s Party spokesman Sok Eysan said that the authorities had followed the proper procedure and claimed that the organizations issuing the statement were biased.

Speaking at a meeting of garment workers on Wednesday, Prime Minister Hun Sen said he would not pardon Sokha.