The prime minister of Cambodia filed a lawsuit alleging defamation against an opposition leader and opposition party leader on Monday. Primer Minister Hun Sen’s lawyer filed [VOA report] suit against Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) President Sam Rainsy for posting on Facebook that “the fatal shooting of Kem Ley today is another terrorist act organized by the authorities.” A separate lawsuit was also filed against CNRP Senator Thak Lany for allegedly saying [Khmer Times report] during a public forum that she did not know “what [the Prime Minister] is thinking—Suddenly he killed Kem Ley, a political analyst.” The lawsuits seek a 100 riel fine, approximately 2 cents in US dollars, and argue that both statements were defamatory and negatively impacted Hun Sen’s reputation. Kem Ley was a popular political analyst, spoke critically of the government, and was shot and killed on July 10. The lawsuit is widely considered [RFA report] a maneuver by the ruling party to suppress the opposition ahead of the local elections scheduled next year.
The lack of transparency in the Cambodian legislature and contention between political parties have caused international concern. In June the Cambodian parliament voted [JURIST report] to allow the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to open an investigation into opposition leader Kem Sohka regarding his alleged involvement with a prostitute. Last November the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia, Rhona Smith, warned [JURIST report] that the increasing polarization of the political parties in Cambodia is reaching a breaking point. Also in November Cambodia opposition leader Rainsy was removed [JURIST report] as a member of the country’s National Assembly. That month a Cambodian court indicted [JURIST report] three men in the beating of two opposition lawmakers. In October the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed [JURIST report] concern over the “organized attack” on opposition politicians in Cambodia.