The Cambodia Watchdog Council called on PM Hun Sen to drop a suit against an opposition lawmaker, claiming the courts are being used to stymie critics of the government



Government Critics Abused by Courts: Group
By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
09 June 2009


The Cambodia Watchdog Council on Tuesday called on Prime Minister Hun
Sen to drop a suit against an opposition lawmaker, claiming the courts
are being used to stymie critics of the government.

A rash of defamation suits and criminal cases against incitement have
appeared in recent weeks in the courts, including the suit of Hun Sen
against Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian Mu Sochua, who herself is
suing the premier for defamation, for allegedly lewd remarks in the
2008 election campaign.

The head of a non-governmental agency and the editor of an opposition
newspaper are also facing lawsuits and criminal offenses in Phnom Penh
Municipal Court after offending senior officials, said Rong Chhun, a
member of the Watchdog Council.

“Our national leaders do not accept constructive criticism from
critics, to consider and to resolve, but the government uses the court
system to cover their wrongdoing and has no courage to accept the
facts,” he said in a statement. The use of the courts to “pressure and
silence critics” was “threatening freedom of expression,” he said.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan denied the charges, saying
the government was working to “strengthen the rule of law and protect
people’s rights and freedoms.”
.