Free former opposition leader Kem Sokha, arbitrarily detained without trial for one year

Press release

(Paris) Cambodian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release former opposition leader Kem Sokha, FIDH said on the one-year anniversary of his detention.

“After jailing Kem Sokha in order to exclude him and his party from the recent sham general election, Prime Minister Hun Sen is now keeping him behind bars to use him as a bargaining chip in an attempt to avoid international sanctions. Kem Sokha’s prolonged and arbitrary detention without trial must immediately end.”

Debbie Stothard, FIDH Secretary-General

Since his arrest, Kem Sokha has been denied bail five times. On 30 August 2018, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court extended his detention for up to another six months. Kem Sokha remains incarcerated in Trapaing Thlong Prison (Correctional Center 3 Prison) in Tboung Khmum Province on fabricated charges of treason.

Kem Sokha was arrested by police shortly after midnight on 3 September 2017. At least 100 police conducted the raid on his home in connection with an alleged plot to overthrow the government. On 5 September 2017, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court charged him with treason under Article 443 of the Criminal Code (‘conspiracy with [a] foreign power’). The charges stemmed from a speech he delivered in Australia in 2013, the video of which was posted online.

In an opinion adopted on 19 April 2018, the United Nations (UN) Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) declared Kem Sokha’s detention arbitrary. The WGAD called on the Cambodian government to immediately release Kem Sokha and award him compensation for the arbitrary deprivation of liberty to which he had been subjected.

Press contacts
Ms. Maryna Chebat (French, English) - Tel: +33648059157 (Paris)
Mr. Andrea Giorgetta (English) - Tel: +66886117722 (Bangkok)
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