Cambodian Opposition Lawmaker Punished for ‘Incitement’ on border matters

12/10/2016

A Cambodian court on Tuesday officially charged opposition lawmaker Um Sam An with two criminal offenses over his accusations that the government conceded land to Vietnam along its border, his lawyer said, in a case widely seen as another instance of the ruling party’s persecution of the political opposition.
The Phnom Penh Municipal Court placed Um Sam An, a lawmaker from the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), under pretrial lockup for incitement to commit a felony and incitement to cause discrimination, attorney Chhoung Chou Ngy said. Authorities then took him away to the country’s notorious Prey Sar prison.
The charges arose from Um Sam An’s accusations that the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) had failed to stop land encroachment by Vietnam and used improper maps to demarcate the border between the two former colonies of France.
He faces up to five years in prison under the two incitement charges, the first of which carries a penalty of six months to two years in jail plus a fine. The second charge is punishable by one to three years in jail and a fine of 2 million-6 million riel (U.S. $500-U.S. $1,500), Chhoung Chou Ngy said.
The attorney told RFA’s Khmer Service that the court has violated the constitution by sentencing his client to prison.
“This is contrary to the constitution’s Article 80 because he still has immunity,” he said, referring to the provision in the charter that grants National Assembly deputies immunity from arrest and prosecution.
“It means that the court has arrested and detained a lawmaker who has immunity,” he said.
In the meantime, Prime Minister Hun Sen has renewed his threat to arrest anyone, including lawmakers, who discusses Cambodia-Vietnam border issues.
“Those who dare to say the border map is fake will be arrested whoever they are,” he said, adding that Um Sam An’s arrest and detention resulted from accusatory posts about the issue that he made on his Facebook page.
In accusing the government of using fake border maps, Um Sam An posted what he said were the valid French colonial maps of Cambodia’s border with Vietnam, which the constitution mandates are the only ones that can be used for border demarcation.
Parliament’s extraordinary session
Also on Tuesday, the National Assembly held an extraordinary session to determine whether the court can continue its investigation of Um Sam An.
Chheang Von, a lawyer from the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), told reporters after the meeting that parliament had approved a motion to let the court continue its review of Um Sam An’s case, because he had committed an obvious offense via social media.
He also said Um Sam An’s comments had provoked conflict between Cambodia and Vietnam and confused the public.
The CNRP boycotted the session and held a separate press conference to denounce parliament’s move.
CNRP lawmaker Son Chhay told reporters that the party’s deputies boycotted the session so that they could avoid violating the constitution.
“We don’t want to breach any laws,” he said. “We want the National Assembly to be independent.”
With reference to Article 80 of the constitution, Son Chhay said a lawmaker’s immunity can be stripped only if the National Assembly has a two-thirds majority vote, although the CPP does not currently have such a supermajority./.
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All comments [ 4 ]


Love Peace 18/10/16 14:28

Those lawmakers should be punished and forbidden from political activities.

yobro yobro 18/10/16 20:23

This man and other CNRP lawmakers have distorted border issues between the two country, they should be sentenced as examples.

Pack Cassiopian 18/10/16 20:25

Can't believe in any allegations of these elements. They are destroying the two countries' relationship.

Deck Hero14 18/10/16 20:31

There are many extreme individuals in CNRP party, they all must be handled too.

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