PHNOM PENH – A United Nations skilled group is looking for the speedy launch of a Cambodian-American human rights activist, saying an investigation it carried out has concluded she was being “arbitrarily detained in violation of international law.”

The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention stated in a judgment late Wednesday that whereas lawyer Theary Seng had been convicted of conspiracy to commit treason and different fees final 12 months, she was in actuality being punished for “making two posts on Facebook critical of Hun Sen,” Cambodia’s autocratic prime minister.

The judgment comes a bit greater than every week earlier than Cambodia’s common election, through which Hun Sen, who has been in energy for 38 years, and his ruling Cambodian Individuals’s Occasion are just about assured a landslide victory, for the reason that Candlelight Occasion, the one different contender able to mounting a reputable problem, was barred on a technicality from contesting the polls by the Nationwide Election Committee.

The scenario is just like that of the 2018 common election, when the favored Cambodian Nationwide Rescue Occasion was dissolved months earlier than the polls by a controversial court docket ruling that alleged it had plotted the unlawful overthrow of the federal government.

Cambodian courts are extensively believed to be below Hun Sen’s affect, and pro-democracy teams have frequently criticized his authorities for stifling any opposition.

Theary Seng was sentenced to 6 years in jail final June in a trial with dozens of members of the Cambodian Nationwide Rescue Occasion over a failed try by the celebration’s chief to return from exile in 2019.

Cambodian authorities blocked Sam Rainsy’s return and alleged that the 60 defendants had been concerned in organizing his journey, which Theary Seng and the others denied.

Theary Seng escaped Cambodia as a baby after her two dad and mom had been killed within the radical-communist Khmer Rouge genocide, and grew up in Michigan. She returned to Cambodia in 2004 to discovered two NGOs specializing in human rights and civic engagement.

Her case was submitted for a judgment to the UN working group by the Perseus Methods, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, and Freedom Home organizations, all of which characterize her professional bono.

It discovered Theary Seng’s detention arbitrary for a number of causes, highlighting each the regime’s “political motivation” and that mass trials like Theary Seng’s “are incompatible with the interests of justice.”

It famous that Theary Seng’s detention “is situated within a wider crackdown on freedom of expression,” and that due course of violations she confronted had been “designed to intimidate her into silence.”

On June 5, whereas talking to Cambodian garment manufacturing unit staff, Hun Sen dominated out pardoning Theary Seng and publicly ordered his Justice Minister to not entertain any request for amnesty or sentence discount for her.

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