UN rights expert warns Cambodia’s political polarization reaching breaking point
UN rights expert warns Cambodia’s political polarization reaching breaking point

[JURIST] The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia, Rhona Smith, warned [press release] Monday that the increasing polarization of the political parties in Cambodia is reaching a breaking point. Smith is concerned about the possible human rights implication of the polarization. She said that “elected leaders have a responsibility to act in the interest of those whom they represent … with such power comes responsibility.” Her warning follows a court decision on November 13 that led to the issuance of an arrest warrant for Sam Rainsy, leader of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), for his 2011 conviction for public defamation and instigation of discrimination. She warned that the leaders of these political parties that their job is to “safeguard national peace and public order.”

Rainsy was sentenced [JURIST report] in absentia in September to 10 years in prison for charges of forging and disseminating a false map [JURIST report] of the Cambodia-Vietnam border on his political party’s website. The map shows an area along the border of the two countries in which Rainsy alleged the Vietnamese government tampered with four border posts, placing them further into Cambodian territory than UN, US Army, Google and French colonial maps specify. The Cambodian government has never released an official map of the country, although they promised to release one in 2012. Human Rights Watch called [press release] the closed-door trial of Sam Rainsy and two villagers a “farce,” saying the ruling demonstrates the government’s control over the country’s judiciary. In 2006 Rainsy received a royal pardon for a 2005 defamation conviction. However, in 2011 he lost his final appeal [JURIST report].