The investigating judge at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday questioned a former employee of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) as a witness in a treason case against former Cambodia National Rescue Party leader Kem Sokha.
“On Tuesday, the investigating judge, Ky Rithy, of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court questioned a witness, Kry Song, regarding Kem Sokha, who stands charged with treason,” said Y Rin, a court spokesman.
Song is one of eight people summonsed by the court regarding the treason case.
Young Analyst Group head Hang Vitou claimed the witness did not speak out on the issue due to intimidation, and that the summonses were a pressure tactic being used on civil society groups.
“For political reasons, [the witnesses] are too afraid to talk to reporters about the case because of political pressure put on them,” he claimed.
Many have speculated that the space for civil society groups in the Kingdom has become hostile in the past six months.
In December, Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that the outspoken CCHR would not be forcibly shut down, despite accusing the local NGO of serving foreign interests.
The CCHR was founded in 2002 by Sokha, who later co-founded the CNRP – which became the country’s largest opposition party. He was arrested in September on charges of treason. His party was also dissolved by the Supreme Court for conspiring with foreign governments to foment a “revolution”.