Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Arrests over ‘incitement’ in line with law, minister says



Arrests over ‘incitement’ in line with law, minister says

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Australian ambassador Pablo Kang meets Minister of Justice Koeut Rith at the ministry on Tuesday. Justice Ministry

Arrests over ‘incitement’ in line with law, minister says

Justice Minister Koeut Rith told Australian ambassador Pablo Kang that any arrests carried out by Cambodian authorities were in line with Cambodian laws.

Rith said this in response to concerns voiced by Kang at a Tuesday meeting.

Fourteen people have been arrested since July and charged with incitement for their comments about Cambodia-Vietnam border demarcation. Those arrested included union leader Rong Chhun and the president of the Khmer Win Party, Soung Sophorn, along with supporters who protested for their release.

A day after the meeting, Kang tweeted: “I caught up with Justice Minister Koeut Rith yesterday. I raised at length our concerns over the recent spate of arrests of activists.”

Rith told Kang the rights and freedoms of an individual must be exercised within the framework of the law. Those who enjoy those rights beyond the line and affect other people have to be held accountable before the law.

“Laws in each country are not the same due to the social context and the country’s history. In a historical context, border issues are controversial in Cambodia. Incitement and falsifying information about borders has already put Cambodia in wars and instability for three decades,” Rith told Kang.

In Cambodia, he said, it is illegal to falsify the truth about border issues to cause social chaos and destroy peace and stability. He said that is not an exercise of freedom of expression.

“Cambodia adheres to the rule of law. Therefore, Cambodia has to enforce its law against any wrong-doing to ensure social security and public order.

“This is done for the sake of the public. In a democratic country, any individual who is arrested has full rights to defend themselves or have lawyers to defend them in court,” Rith said.

Referring to protests demanding the release of Chhun, the minister said such an action was regarded as putting pressure on a legal enforcement institution. Such action was illegal and against the principle of the rule of law, he said.

The Ministry of Justice website said Rith and Kang also talked about Australian support to Cambodia. Rith thanked the Australian government for its contribution to Cambodia in many sectors, including in health and agriculture.

Australia has also assisted Cambodia in the development of legal documents, including a law on mutual assistance in criminal affairs.

Kang lauded good cooperation between the two nations, especially in the fights against money laundering, child exploitation, and transnational crimes. And he applauded the ministry’s effort in solving congestion at all courts of first instance.

An Australian Embassy spokesperson told The Post on Wednesday that Kang raised his ongoing discussions with Cambodian ministers, including Rith, on legal and human rights issues.

“Rith and Kang had an extensive discussion which covered a range of issues, including recent arrests. It would not be appropriate to reveal the details of these discussions.

“Kang congratulated Cambodia on the historic passing of new laws to combat proliferation financing and facilitate mutual legal assistance.

“Australia, through our Department of Home Affairs and the Attorney-General’s Department, was pleased to provide drafting support for these laws,” the spokesperson said.

The embassy said Australia stood ready to support Cambodia to implement these laws, including assisting the Ministry of Justice to deliver a workshop next month to train officials on Cambodia’s new mutual legal assistance laws.

Australia will provide technical assistance to support the Ministry of Justice in preparing relevant sub-decrees under the counter-proliferation financing law, the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said the country will also support the Ministry of Interior to prepare guidance materials to promote consistent application of the counter-proliferation financing law, once relevant sub-decrees have been issued.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen says Kingdom not a 'satellite country'

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said Cambodia had sent diplomatic notes to various embassies demonstrating its stance and clarifying allegations that the Kingdom is a satellite country of China which will allow it exclusive access to the Ream Naval Base in Preah Sihanouk province. The response

  • Vast Prince Manor fun park opens to much fanfare in Kandal

    Chinese-owned Prince Culture and Development Co Ltd officially launched the $85 million Prince Manor entertainment centre in Kandal province on Wednesday. Prince Manor is located along National Road 1, 20km from the centre of Phnom Penh. It is the first major theme park project in Cambodia and

  • Angkor provides ‘valuable’ water storage

    The Apsara National Authority (ANA) has stored millions of cubic metres of water at reservoirs in the Angkor area after Cambodia experienced a series of rainstorms over the last few days. The storing of the water, besides serving temple conservation, will also be used to

  • Floods prompt evacuations in Kampong Speu

    Rain-induced floods and water flowing from Kampong Speu province have submerged the houses of 1,527 families living close to the Prek Thnot River in Spean Thma, Tien, Kong Noy and Roluos communes in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district, according to data from local authorities. Spean Thma

  • Serving coffee with a side of robots

    The eye-catching glass building surrounded by greenery at the intersection of Streets 371 and 2002 in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district is more than just another coffee shop where you can while away a few hours. UrHobby House cafe is filled with robots and characters from

  • Cintri strike ends, workers’ contracts to be terminated

    CINTRI (Cambodia) Ltd rubbish collectors who have been on strike for the past 13 days agreed to return to work starting Wednesday evening after the company agreed to terminate their contracts at the end of January next year and provide seniority payments and other benefits to