Cambodia's opposition politician trial 'alarming': UN rights
The UN's human rights chief on Tuesday said defamation proceedings against an opposition politician in Cambodia illustrated the "alarming erosion" of free speech and judicial independence in the country.
Mu Sochua of the opposition Sam Rainsy Party was convicted last year for defaming Prime Minister Hun Sen during an April news conference, at which she announced plans to sue the premier for allegedly insulting her.
On June 2, Cambodia's highest court upheld the conviction against the former minister of women's affairs, who has been ordered to pay more than 4,000 dollars in fines and compensation to Hun Sen or face going to jail.
"We believe this highly politicised case appears to show an alarming erosion of both freedom of expression and the independence of the judiciary in Cambodia," said Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
"Mu Sochua now stands on the verge of imprisonment for merely exercising her legal right to express her view that she was defamed and her intention to seek a legal remedy," she added.
"The criminal justice is the bedrock of human rights protection. However, in this case, it has become a blunt instrument to silence freedom of expression," said Pillay.
© 2010 AFP