A court in Cambodia recently extended by six months the pre-trial detention of five human rights defenders already held for a year without trial. They include Lim Mony, Nay Vanda, Ny Sokha, and Yi Soksan, members of the respected Cambodian non-governmental organization ADHOC, as well as that of former member Ny Chakrya.
The United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner called for Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government to “release without delay” the five rights defenders.
Speaking to reporters in Geneva, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights spokesperson Elizabeth Throssell also expressed regret that their detention was extended, despite an opinion by the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention last November that they be freed.
“While we recognize the obligation of the investigative judge to thoroughly investigate the case, the use of pre-trial detention should be the exception, rather than the rule, and be allowed only for the shortest possible time necessary, on the basis of clear evidence and valid legal reasoning,” Throssell said.
“We regret that these safeguards appear not to have been followed at any of the bail hearings.”
The United States notes with concern reports the impact this prolonged detention is having on the families of the imprisoned and the unreasonable delay in proceeding to trial. The United States encourages the government of Cambodia to consider carefully the United Nations' recommendations of the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and respect its human rights obligations.
As Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said, promoting human rights and democracy is a core element of U.S. foreign policy. That's why the U.S. will continue to champion respect for human rights around the world, including in Cambodia.