Friday, October 1, 2010

Cambodia: Rainsy Sentence Shatters Pretense of Democracy

Conviction of Opposition Leader Showcases Political Control of Judiciary

The latest conviction of the Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy on politicized charges makes it clear that the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen is no longer interested in even the pretense of democracy, Human Rights Watch said today. Rainsy was sentenced to 10 years in prison on September 23, 2010, on charges of spreading disinformation and falsifying maps.

Human Rights Watch urged President Barack Obama to tell Hun Sen when they meet today that this incident will threaten international assistance and relations with Cambodia, especially if the government fails to take urgent action to reverse measures that undermine freedom of expression, assembly, and association. Obama is scheduled to meet with Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders in New York on the fringes of the annual United Nations General Assembly meeting.

"President Obama and other world leaders need to let Hun Sen and his government know that the free ride is over," said Sophie Richardson, acting Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "Cambodia cannot sentence the leader of the opposition to 10 years in prison for peaceful expression without expecting serious consequences."

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