Re: Mu Sochua is no regular strong leg SRP legislator. She holds both US and Cambodian citizenship
- From: Chim <ChimS1@xxxxxxx>
- Date: Tue, 5 May 2009 22:46:00 -0700 (PDT)
On May 5, 10:36 pm, Chim <Chi...@xxxxxxx> wrote:
Cambodia: End Threats to Opposition Lawmaker
One of Parliament’s Few Women Faces Criminal Defamation Suit
May 5, 2009
(New York) - Prime Minister Hun Sen and other senior members of the
ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) should stop threatening to
orchestrate the removal of lawmakers' parliamentary immunity in order
to silence government critics, Human Rights Watch said today.
In a speech on April 29, 2009, Hun Sen said that it would be "as easy
as ABC" to have the parliamentary immunity lifted for Mu Sochua, a
National Assembly member. This would permit the government to bring
criminal charges against her and prosecute her for publicly
criticizing the prime minister. The Phnom Penh Municipal Court has
summoned Sochua to court on May 7.
"This is yet another blatant attempt to silence the political
opposition," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "By
threatening to prosecute opposition members of parliament on bogus
charges, Hun Sen shows once again that his goal is elective
dictatorship, not a genuinely pluralistic democracy."
Under Cambodia's Constitution, members of the National Assembly are
immune from prosecution unless the assembly lifts their parliamentary
immunity. The CPP has a long history of lifting the parliamentary
immunity of opposition figures, though, in order to bring politically
motivated criminal charges against them.
Mu Sochua, a member of the opposition Sam Rainsy Party (SRP)
representing Kampot province, is one of the few female members of the
National Assembly. On April 23, she and her lawyer announced her
intention to file a defamation complaint against the prime minister
after he publicly accused an unnamed woman from Kampot of "inciting"
problems and acting like a gangster (cheung klang, literally "strong
leg," a term considered especially derogatory for women). Sochua had
said she was physically manhandled by a CPP military general during
the 2008 election campaign. But Hun Sen, in his remarks, contended
that she had instead acted provocatively by "rushing to embrace
someone" and then complaining that the person had ripped open several
of the buttons of her blouse.
The day after Sochua announced her lawsuit, a senior prime ministerial
adviser, Om Yentieng, told the press that Hun Sen would counter-sue
Sochua, and that all CPP National Assembly members would support
lifting her immunity.
Five days later, Hun Sen confirmed that he was suing "a lady," whom he
described as "stupid," as well as her lawyer. The lawsuit against
Sochua was filed on April 27 by Hun Sen's lawyer, Ky Tech, former
president of the Cambodian Bar Association. Ky Tech has also filed a
complaint with the Bar Association against Sochua's lawyer, Kong Sam
Onn, accusing him of violating the lawyers' code of ethics in this
Opposition figures convicted on politically motivated charges after
their parliamentary immunity was lifted include Cheam Channy, an SRP
member convicted in a biased trial in 2005 on unsubstantiated charges
of creating a rebel army, and the party leader, Sam Rainsy, the same
year for allegedly defaming government leaders.
"Punishing Mu Sochua is no idle threat as Hun Sen continues to find
ways to intimidate the opposition," said Adams. "Threats to prosecute
government critics and lawyers are especially difficult to counter in
Cambodia, where the courts are controlled by the government. No judge
in Cambodia would stand up to Hun Sen."
What does that mean?
It simply means that if anything happens to Mu Sochua, in terms of due
process of law or even some unforeseeable event, then the FBI which is
located in Phnom Penh and the US Department of Justice in Washington,
DC may need to be involved in order to protect the rights of a US
The political implication of that kind of incident cannot be imagined
because it can go way beyond the intent of the law.
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