News

    Cambodian Opposition Leader Sentenced in Absentia to 18 Months in Jail

    A Cambodian court has convicted opposition leader Sam Rainsy in absentia on two counts of criminal defamation, a move that could keep the government critic in self-imposed exile for years. Human rights groups accuse the government of using the judiciary to silence opponents.

    Sam Rainsy was sentenced to 18 months in prison and fined approximately $14,000 after being found guilty by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court of defaming Prime Minister Hun Sen and National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh.

    The verdict was expected. Critics of the prime minister accuse him of using the courts to silence his opponents.

    Opposition member Mu Sochua called on the international community to help broker a political truce that would allow Sam Rainsy to return home. She said the court ruling stole his chances of participating fully in national elections in 2008.

    "It would prevent Rainsy, the leader of the opposition, to have a complete role, presence for the campaign towards the election. This would really impair the election," she said.

    Prince Ranariddh filed a criminal defamation suit in 2004, after Sam Rainsy accused him of accepting bribes to form a coalition government with the prime minister's ruling Cambodian People's Party.

    The second defamation case was a countersuit that Hun Sen filed last September. Sam Rainsy had filed a suit, which he ultimately lost, accusing the prime minister of masterminding a grenade attack on an opposition rally in 1997.

    Judge Chiv Keng said Sam Rainsy had acted with ill will and used his influence to tarnish the reputation of the country's leaders. He handed down a pair of twin sentences, ordering Sam Rainsy to serve nine months in prison in each of the cases, pay approximately $2,000 each in fines, and $5,000 each in compensation to the plaintiffs.

    Sam Rainsy went into exile last February after the parliament stripped his parliamentary immunity. Lawyer Som Chandina, who represented him at trial, argued that the defendant had only expressed ideas for social change.

    The Cambodian government insists Hun Sen and Ranariddh filed the lawsuits to defend their reputations, but rights groups consider the litigation a form of political warfare on dissenters.

    New York-based Human Rights Watch this week called on the government to end "spurious, politically motivated criminal lawsuits as a way to silence its critics."

    At least seven critics of a controversial new border treaty with Vietnam also face criminal lawsuits ordered by Hun Sen. In October, a radio journalist and union president who publicly opposed the treaty were arrested, and are being held without bail on charges of defamation and incitement. Human Rights Watch, the United States and the European Union have all called for their immediate release.

    Another opposition lawmaker was jailed in February, and yet another fled the country, like Sam Rainsy, for fear of arrest.

    Members of the Sam Rainsy Party are struggling to maintain a united front as they face local and national elections over the next three years.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Image Recognition Market Seen Doubling by 2020i
    X
    Ramon Taylor
    May 05, 2016 10:05 PM
    From auto tagging on Facebook to self-driving cars, image recognition technology as it exists today is still in its beginning phases, experts say — and will soon change the way users and corporations interact with the physical world. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
    Video

    Video Image Recognition Market Seen Doubling by 2020

    From auto tagging on Facebook to self-driving cars, image recognition technology as it exists today is still in its beginning phases, experts say — and will soon change the way users and corporations interact with the physical world. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
    Video

    Video Child Labor in Afghanistan Remains a Problem

    With war still raging in Afghanistan, the country also faces the problem of child labor as families put their school-age children to work to help make ends meet. But, thanks to VOA's Afghan Service, two families whose children had been working in a brick-making factory - to earn their livings and pay off family debts - now have a new lease on life. Zabihullah Ghazi reports.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora