Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Singapore urges progress on Asean extradition treaty

Singapore urges progress on Asean extradition treaty

Asean leaders pose for a group photograph during the opening of the 32nd Asean Summit in Singapore on Saturday. Roslan Rahman/AFP
Asean leaders pose for a group photograph during the opening of the 32nd Asean Summit in Singapore on Saturday. Roslan Rahman/AFP

Singapore urges progress on Asean extradition treaty

Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong urged Asean member states to begin drafting a regional extradition treaty, prompting observers to raise concerns over the existing misuse of expatriation procedures by countries in the 10-member bloc, including Cambodia.

The comments were made in the Singaporean premier’s statement to the 32nd Asean Summit, attended by Prime Minister Hun Sen over the weekend. Lee said that a model extradition treaty had already been agreed upon by all members and that it was time to start work on an actionable draft.

“We noted that work could commence on an Asean extradition treaty as a next step, to strengthen Asean’s resilience and capacity to combat transnational crime, and to enhance cooperation within Asean to ensure respect for the rule of law,” his statement reads.

Cambodia has been criticised by rights groups for attempting to extradite political dissidents, especially from Thailand, which is often the first port of call for anyone escaping the country. The two countries already share an extradition treaty.

Sam Sokha, wanted for throwing a shoe at a ruling party billboard last year, was arrested in Thailand for overstaying her visa and sent back to Cambodia, despite being a UN-recognised refugee. She was then convicted by a Kampong Speu court and sentenced to two years in prison for “incitement to discriminate” and “insulting a public official”, a decision condemned by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the UN Refugee Agency.

Sam Sokha enters the Kampong Speu Provincial Court on Thursday, where she was sentenced to two years for incitement and insult for throwing a shoe at a CPP billboard in last year. Licadho
Sam Sokha enters the Kampong Speu Provincial Court on Thursday, where she was sentenced to two years for incitement and insult for throwing a shoe at a CPP billboard in last year. Licadho

Last week, political dissident Sam Serey, branded a “terrorist” by the government, was also arrested in Bangkok for overstaying his visa, with Cambodian officials putting in a request for his extradition. Serey, however, was sent back to Denmark, where he has permanent residency after being granted political asylum.

Human Rights Watch’s Phil Robertson said probably only a few people had seen the text of the model Asean extradition treaty, given the bloc’s opaque operations and refusal to include civil society in decisions.

“But already alarm bells are going off because governments like Cambodia, Thailand, Singapore and others in the region obstinately refuse to understand that fear of political persecution is a legitimate reason to not extradite someone,” he said.

Paul Chambers, lecturer at the Naresuan University in Thailand, said it was likely any regional extradition treaty would benefit repressive regimes.

“Such a treaty could, however, help authoritarian regimes within ASEAN assist each other to deport exiled dissenters home to face state punishment,” he said via email.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen: Full country reopening to be decided in two weeks

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced that if the Covid-19 situation remains stable for 15 consecutive days from the end of the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, Cambodia will reopen fully, albeit in the context of Covid-19 whereby people have to adjust their lives to

  • Phnom Penh governor: Show Covid-19 vaccination cards, or else

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng late on October 5 issued a directive requiring all people aged 18 and over and the parents of children aged 6-17 to produce Covid-19 vaccination cards when entering schools, markets, malls, marts, eateries and other business establishments that have been permitted

  • Cambodia seeks probe into 'false reports' on Hun Sen's alleged Cypriot passport

    Minister of Justice Koeut Rith on September 6 wrote a letter to his Cypriot counterpart Stephie Dracos requesting cooperation in investigating and providing the truth in relation to the "exaggerative and false allegations" that Prime Minister Hun Sen holds a Cypriot passport. In his letter, the

  • Will Evergrande change the way Chinese developers do business in Cambodia?

    China’s property sector policy has exposed the grim financial condition of real estate developers including those operating in Cambodia, which raises questions over the viability of their projects and business going forward The dark blue netting draping over one of Yuetai Group Co Ltd’

  • 'Pandora Papers' expose leaders' offshore millions

    More than a dozen heads of state and government, from Jordan to Azerbaijan, Kenya and the Czech Republic, have used offshore tax havens to hide assets worth hundreds of millions of dollars, according to a far-reaching new investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (

  • Cambodia voted ‘world’s friendliest country’ in Rough Guides reader poll

    Cambodia ranked number one among the “World’s Friendliest Countries”, according to a reader poll conducted by London-based international website “Rough Guides”. Taking submissions through Twitter and Facebook, “Rough Guides”, a well-known travel agency and publisher of guidebooks, said the Kingdom “was by far the