Kem Sokha, head of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) [party website] was charged Tuesday with treason after his arrest on Sunday. The arrest of Sokha was first announced [Tweet] by his daughter on social media. Sokha and others were arrested and charged [Cambodia Daily report] with committing acts of treason by colluding with foreign agencies [Phnom Penh Post report]. At issue is the international support Sokha receives ahead of next year’s election, which resulted in a televised broadcast in Australia. Sokha not only heads [Asian Correspondent report] the opposition party but also is associated with a local newspaper that was temporarily shutdown [tweet] as a result of the raid. The International community has condemned [UN press release] the arrest [US press release] as interference [UK press release] in democratic elections.
The arrest comes on the heels of the Cambodian government cracking down on political opposition within the country. Cambodia’s National Assembly in July passed a bill [JURIST report] that prohibits political parties from being affiliated with convicted criminals. The US Department of State issued a press release [text] in May expressing concern over the prolonged pretrial detention of five Cambodian activist. A law passed [JURIST report] in February by Cambodia’s parliament gives the Supreme Court the power to dissolve any political parties it finds unconstitutional.