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Friday, February 9, 2018

HRW: Cambodia: Free Forcibly Returned Critic of Hun Sen Thailand Violates International Law by Returning UN-Recognized Refugee

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen arrives to attend the Cambodian People's Party (CPP) congress in Phnom Penh, Cambodia January 19, 2018.
Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen arrives to attend the Cambodian People's Party (CPP) congress in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on January 19, 2018. 
 © 2018 Samrang Pring / Reuters

Cambodia: Free Forcibly Returned Critic of Hun Sen

Thailand Violates International Law by Returning UN-Recognized Refugee

Human Rights Watch | 9 February 2018

(New York) – The Cambodian government should immediately release Sam Sokha, a Cambodian labor activist who gained notoriety after she threw a sandal at a photo of Prime Minister Hun Sen in April 2017, Human Rights Watch said today. On February 8, 2018, Thai authorities forcibly returned Sam Sokha, who had been detained in Bangkok in January, to Cambodia.
Video of her act was circulated widely on social media. Shortly thereafter, Cambodian authorities issued a warrant for her arrest for “insult of a public official” and “incitement to discriminate” under articles 494, 496, and 502 of the Cambodia Criminal Code. As a result, she was forced to flee Cambodia and seek asylum in Thailand. In Thailand, she was interviewed and formally recognized as a refugee by UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency. Forcibly returning her violates the customary international law principle of non-refoulement, which prohibits the return of anyone to a place where they would face the threat of persecution, torture, or other serious human rights violations.
“Thailand was fully aware of Sam Sokha’s status as a refugee, yet still returned her to Cambodia, where she is likely to face a prison term for expressing her political views,” said Brad Adams, Asia director. “It’s sad but not surprising that a military junta would do a favor for a neighboring dictator, but they should not cement their friendship at the expense of a refugee.”
Thailand was fully aware of Sam Sokha’s status as a refugee, yet still returned her to Cambodia, where she is likely to face a prison term for expressing her political views. 

Brad Adams

Asia Director
Sam Sokha was arrested on January 5 by Thai authorities in Bangkok. The Suan Phlu Immigration Detention Center investigation team reported to Sam Sokha’s lawyers that they received a request for cooperation from Cambodia on her case. On January 6, Sam Sokha was charged for illegal entry under section 81 of the Immigration Act.
On January 22, Sam Sokha’s lawyers sent a letter via registered mail to the Thai National Security Council, Thai police, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Bureau informing the Thai authorities of Sam Sokha’s intention to appeal her immigration charges and putting on record her refusal to return to Cambodia. On February 2, Sam Sokha’s lawyers filed an appeal relating to unlawful entry charges.
On February 8, Thailand forcibly returned Sam Sokha to Cambodia. The Thai government forcibly sent her back knowing that western embassies and the UNHCR were involved in trying to find her a third country resettlement option.
The UN, Cambodia’s donors, and countries that support refugee rights should press Cambodia to release Sam Sokha and to allow her to be travel to a safe country.
“Thailand’s friends should formally and publicly complain about this shocking act of sending a refugee back to a country where she will face near-certain persecution,” Adams said. “This case sets a worrisome precedent for how Thailand will treat the many other refugees currently on its soil.”



1 comment:

  1. Anonymous9:40 AM

    After about three hundred years of intermittent attempts to bring this small country under its complete control [during which time they had been repelled by mass rebellions and other setbacks], the Vietnamese have finally found in Sen an ideal ally in the accomplishment of their dreams and desires.
    ---------------------
    I read history and according to history, Siam was wiping out Khmers such that Khmers abandoned their capital at Angkor Thom along with the great temple of Angkor Wat to move east toward Vietnam for protection.

    Siam continued to advance eastward and sacked Oudong, Lovek, Phnom Penh, and then Lovek again. Each time, Vietnam had to send troops to liberate Khmers from the Siamese (Thai now a day). Khmer lost so much land to the Siamese, including then whole Surin area as big as Khmer srok today along with the whole west side of Battambang. If you factor in the ancient claim of the Khmer empire, then the whole Thailand's current area of Bangkok also used to belong to Khmers.

    Currently, Thais continue to kill Khmers in large numbers: 65ish per year at the border (for stealing rosewoods), hundreds and hundreds on Thai fishing boats (and the bodies dumped overboard), and hundreds if not thousands on Thailand's plantations.

    And yet, in this article, not once the Khmers mentioned anything about the Thais. If you google the internet, there are disputes between Thai and Khmer farmers over thousand of kilometers and the Khmer farmers always got the shorter ends. Yet, these Khmer on the forums are disputing over a few hundred meters of land which were officially agreed by both Cambodian and Vietnamese governments.

    Note: The disputes between Thai and Khmer farmers were never agreed or ratified by both governments but the Khmer farmers were mysterious muffled by some forces who want to protect Thailand's interest. Since Cambodian government has proven to confront Thai arm force at Preah Vihear, I could only suspect some Cambodian political party who has been staying lavishly at 5-star Thai hotel in Bangkok.

    Such a state of Khmer politics!

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