BANGKOK (18 March 2016) – The UN Human Rights Office for South-East Asia (OHCHR) is deeply concerned by the conviction handed down by a Cambodian court against university student, Kong Raya, over anti-government remarks he posted on Facebook.
Mr. Raya was charged with incitement to commit a felony or to disturb social security over a post on his personal Facebook page that “one day, in the future [I will] make a colour revolution to change the regime for Khmer society”. He was arrested shortly after posting the comment in August 2015.
The 25-year-old, who attends Khemarak University, was sentenced to 18 months in jail on 15 March 2016. With six months already served in pre-trial detention, he faces another year in prison.
Reports say Mr. Raya is the first Cambodian to be convicted over a social media post.
“Freedom of expression is the right of all citizens, and an important feature of a genuine democracy,” said Laurent Meillan, OHCHR’s acting regional representative in Bangkok. “For someone to face criminal charges over exercising this right – particularly in what is essentially a personal area – is a clear indication of the diminishing democratic space in Cambodia.”
The OHCHR Regional Office urges the Royal Government of Cambodia to cease prosecution of individuals merely for expressing an opinion.
“In Cambodia, there are domestic and international laws that protect the rights to freedom of opinion and expression,” said Meillan. “These rights are entrenched in Cambodia’s Constitution, and should be promoted and respected by law enforcement officials and the judiciary alike.”
OHCHR calls on the Cambodian Government to ensure it upholds international human rights obligations with respect to freedom of expression.