The co-founder of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), Sam Rainsy, has called on countries “that respect democratic principles” to ignore the arrest warrants outstanding against him and seven other colleagues.
“I call on the governments of countries friendly with Cambodia, and especially those countries that respect democratic principles and human rights, to disregard the arrest warrants against eight leaders of the Cambodian opposition,” the CNRP “acting president”, wrote on Facebook on Saturday.
In March, a Phnom Penh Municipal Court investigating judge issued arrest warrants for eight senior leaders of the former CNRP, including Rainsy, deputy presidents Eng Chhai Eang and Mu Sochua, and former lawmakers Long Ry, Men Sothavarin, Ou Chanrath, Tok Vanchan and Ho Vann. They were charged with “plotting” and “incitement to commit a felony”.
“The United Nations, the US Congress, the European Parliament, Asean Parliamentarians for Human Rights and international human rights organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch can confirm that these arrest warrants have been issued for purely political reasons and show the worsening repression in Cambodia under the Hun Sen dictatorship,” Rainsy said.
Rainsy told The Post via email on Monday that he wrote the Facebook post because he “may have to travel to less democratic countries”.
In March, Phnom Penh Municipal Court judges issued arrest warrants for him and seven other former CNRP officials after a meeting was held in January to prepare for Rainsy’s stated return to the Kingdom.
Tasks carried out at the meeting included preparing a budget for his return and increasing diplomatic activities and cooperation with democratic countries.
Kin Phea, the director-general of the Institute of International Relations at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said what Rainsy had written was just a bid to attract international attention.
“First, he has to ‘make the water move’ to focus attention on him. Secondly, he is afraid of the government’s extradition agreements with countries and Interpol. If he enters any country with such an agreement, he could be extradited back to Cambodia,” he said.
Political analyst Lao Mong Hay said Sam Rainsy was trying to kill two birds with one stone with the post.
“[He] has tried to attack the government for its alleged repressions, thereby drawing public attention to him and his colleagues, and convince the international community that the charges against them are politically motivated and the arrest warrants for them should be ignored,” he said.
“This may help prevent their extradition, but it is likely such concerns are secondary. Some of them are citizens of the country of their residence and cannot be extradited in the absence of any extradition treaty."
“The others are Cambodian nationals, and the extradition process is very long and could unnecessarily further expose the dubious legitimacy of the Cambodian government and judiciary,” he claimed.