Cambodia charges environment activists with insulting the kingon June 22, 2021 at 4:27 am

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Accused of insulting the king, the environment activists face up to 10 years in prison.

Three Cambodian activists


A court in Cambodia has charged three environmental activists with plotting against the government and insulting the king.

The members of the group Mother Nature were arrested after they documented waste run-off into Phnom Penh’s Tonle Sap river.

Cambodia’s law against insulting the king is relatively new and it is not clear how the activists have done so.

The three face between five and 10 years in prison.

The prosecution told the Reuters news agency that “the evidence collected by the police was an insult to the king” although they did not explain exactly how the law had been violated.

Critics have warned that the law – introduced in 2018 – is being used as a tool to silence dissent.

The activists are Sun Ratha, 26, Ly Chandaravuth, 22, and Yim Leanghy, 32, all members of activist group Mother Nature.

They were detained on 16 June while documenting waste discharge into the Tonle Sap river near the royal palace, according to the Cambodian Center for Human Rights.

“The Cambodian government has relentlessly targeted Mother Nature Cambodia,” Naly Pilorge, director of the rights group Licadho, told Reuters.

“This marks an escalation with the outrageous charges of ‘plotting’.”

Mother Nature founder Alejandro Gonzalez-Davidson, who was deported in 2015 after he criticised plans for a controversial dam, was charged in absentia.

Last month, three other campaigners linked to the group were sentenced to between 18 and 20 months in jail for organising a march against a lake in the capital being filled with sand.

The embassies of Sweden and the United States have both criticised the charges.

“Very troubled to hear of the arrests of more environmental youth activists,” US ambassador Patrick Murpy said. “Documenting pollution is a public service, not terrorism. We urge authorities to be responsive to its citizens, not to silence them.

“The Cambodian government has stepped up its campaign to silence activists peacefully advocating to protect the environment,” Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch (HRW) said.

“Foreign governments, the United Nations country team, and international donors should call on the Cambodian authorities to drop their absurd charges against the environmental activists and publicly condemn any further clampdown on peaceful activism.”

“Cambodia’s highly politicised courts mean that the environmental activists charged have no chance of getting a fair trial,” he added.

King Norodom Sihamoni

image copyrightGetty Images

Government spokesman Phay Siphan dismissed criticism of the charges, saying the government was simply applying the law.

Defendants should “find a good lawyer to challenge this issue in the courtroom instead of fabricating the news,” he said.

Cambodia is a constitutional monarchy, with almost all power in the hands of Prime Minister Hun Sen who has run the country for decades.

The authoritarian government is known for cracking down harshly on criticism and dissent.

- Advertisement -




Government LGBT+ adviser quits over ‘hostile environment’on March 10, 2021 at 5:55 pm

Jayne Ozanne accuses ministers of acting against her advice and makes an appeal to Boris Johnson.After Ms Ozanne's resignation, a government spokesman said: "The...

Covid: What do under-30s need to know about the vaccine?on June 7, 2021 at 2:48 pm

The vaccine rollout is now reaching younger adults. What do they need to know about getting jabbed?image copyrightPA MediaThe vaccine rollout is now reaching...

Sex Pistols in legal dispute over Danny Boyle’s new TV serieson July 16, 2021 at 8:44 am

Steve Jones and Paul Cook sue John Lydon over the use of the band's songs in Danny Boyle's Pistol.image copyrightGetty ImagesA legal battle between...

Mark Cuban says families should get $1,000 in stimulus checks every two weeks — with one big catch

Billionaire Mark Cuban says it’s time for the government to push “trickle-up economics” to save small businesses, because the Paycheck Protection Program isn’t cutting...

Myanmar coup: Casualties rise as police step up crackdownon February 28, 2021 at 10:39 am

Police use live rounds, tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse anti-coup rallies in several cities.image copyrightReutersA violent crackdown on anti-coup protesters in Myanmar...