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Wednesday, February 09, 2005

UN rights expert calls for restoration of immunity to Cambodian opposition lawmakers

UN - http://www0.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=13274&Cr=Cambodia&Cr1=#

8 February 2005 – The top United Nations human rights official for Cambodia has voiced serious concern over the lifting of the immunity of three opposition lawmakers, called for the immediate release of one of them who was arrested, and declared that the moves cast doubts on the ruling parties’ commitment to genuine pluralistic democracy.

“These developments raise concerns about an increasingly autocratic form of government, and the future of democracy in Cambodia,” Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Representative for Human Rights in Cambodia, Peter Leuprecht, said, calling on the National Assembly to immediately restore the immunity to all three members.

“In view of the well-documented lack of independence of Cambodia’s judiciary,” he said he was “most concerned” over the moves taken last Thursday against the three Sam Rainsy Party members – Sam Rainsy, Chea Poch and Cheam Channy – and the arrest of the latter on the same day.

While the lifting of the immunity of Sam Rainsy and Chea Poch related to defamation complaints, the arrest of Cheam Channy was linked to an accusation that the Sam Rainsy Party was organizing a secret military force.

“Few outside military intelligence and the military court seem to have given credibility to these allegations, and senior CPP (Cambodian People’s Party) government officials have publicly declared that the authorities have found no evidence of an armed force being created,” Mr. Leuprecht said, calling for Cheam Channy’s “immediate and unconditional release.”

Efforts by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia to obtain access to him continue.

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