(New York) – The Cambodian Supreme Court’s decision to refuse bail to five detained human rights defenders is part of the government’s persecution of Cambodia’s rights groups, Human Rights Watch said today. On November 30, 2016, the court upheld pretrial detention for four current and one former member of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC), in violation of their due process rights under international law.

A news conference is held at the Cambodia Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Phnom Penh on March 31, 2016.
Cambodia’s donors and United Nations bodies should speak out against prosecutions and other actions supported by Prime Minister Hun Sen and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) aimed at intimidating and suppressing human rights work. These measures, as well as recent threats to close the Cambodia Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (COHCHR), are part of a government campaign to curtail domestic and international human rights monitoring in Cambodia.

“The Supreme Court showed its political bias in refusing bail for five human rights defenders criminally charged for doing their jobs in a way the government didn’t like,” said Brad Adams, Asia director. “No one should mistake these prosecutions for anything other than Prime Minister Hun Sen’s effort to undo decades of work by Cambodian groups and the UN to promote the human rights of all Cambodians.”

The “ADHOC five” consists of ADHOC staffers Nay Vanda, Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan, Lim Mony, and former ADHOC staffer Ny Chariya, now a deputy secretary-general of Cambodia’s National Election Committee. On May 2, an investigating judge of the Phnom Penh court filed charges of “bribery of a witness” against those five and Son Saly of COHCHR. Son Saly has not been arrested because as a UN employee he enjoys immunity from legal action for the conduct of his duties.