A Cambodian court has charged four environmental advocates with insulting the king and plotting against the government, an official said on Monday, after three of them were arrested for documenting waste run-off into a river.
Use of royal defamation laws in Cambodia is a relatively new phenomenon, with the legislation only enacted in 2018.
The three environmentalists — Sun Ratha, Ly Chandaravuth and Yim Leanghy of advocacy group Mother Nature — were on Wednesday arrested for documenting the draining of waste into Phnom Penh’s Tonle Sap River.
Over the weekend, they were “charged with conspiracy to plot and for insulting the king,” Phnom Penh Municipal Court spokesman Plang Sophal said by text message on Monday.
Also charged was Mother Nature cofounder Alejandro Gonzalez-Davidson, a Spanish environmentalist who was deported from Cambodia in 2015 after he criticized the government’s plans for a controversial dam.
Sophal did not elaborate on why the environmentalists were hit with those particular charges.
While Cambodia has a constitutional monarch, King Norodom Sihamoni, it is ruled by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Asia’s longest-serving leader.
In 2018, the enactment of the lese majeste laws triggered alarm from rights groups, who said that they could be used to target dissent.
If sentenced, the Mother Nature environmentalists face a maximum penalty of five years in prison for insulting the king, as well as 10 years behind bars for the conspiracy charge.
US Ambassador to Cambodia Patrick Murphy said he was “very troubled” to hear about the arrests.
“Documenting pollution is a public service, not terrorism,” Murphy wrote on Twitter on Monday. “We urge authorities to be responsive to its citizens, not to silence them.”
Last week, the US embassy condemned the “worsening” situation in Cambodia and announced that it was redirecting millions in funds from government entities to local non-governmental organizations.
Mother Nature has faced a raft of legal troubles from Cambodian authorities.
Last month, three environmental campaigners affiliated with the group were sentenced to between 18 and 20 months in prison for organizing a peaceful march to protest against a massive lake in the capital being filled with sand.
The tussle over Cambodia’s environment and resources has long been a contentious issue in the kingdom, with environmentalists threatened, arrested and even killed in the past decade.
A glimpse of a possible Picasso in the home of Imelda Marcos filmed during a visit by her son after his presidential election win has set off a flurry of speculation in the Philippines, where the family that once plundered billions is set to return to power. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr, the son and namesake of the late dictator, won a landslide victory in Monday’s presidential election, an outcome that has appalled those who survived his father’s regime. Images released by the family showed Marcos Jr visiting the home of his mother, who had displayed Picasso’s Femme Couche VI (Reclining Woman VI),
The images of a besuited Ferdinand Marcos Jr, clad in a top hat and leaning nonchalantly on a Rolls-Royce, dating from his time in Britain in the 1970s, are as you might expect from the playboy scion of a kleptocratic dictator. Yet as the Marcos family returns to power in the Philippines after a landslide presidential victory by Marcos Jr, he is facing calls to stop misrepresenting the circumstances of his studies at the University of Oxford. The university has confirmed that he did not complete his degree in philosophy, politics and economics after enrolling in 1975. “According to our records, he did
HATE CRIME: Officials were investigating a detailed ‘manifesto’ posted online before the livestreamed shooting, in which the suspect outlined his reasoning and plans A heavily armed 18-year-old white man on Saturday shot 10 people dead at a Buffalo, New York, grocery store in a “racially motivated” attack that he livestreamed on camera, authorities said. The gunman, who was wearing body armor and a helmet, was arrested after the massacre, Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia told a news conference. Gramaglia put the toll at 10 dead and three wounded. Eleven of the victims were African Americans. The gunman shot four people in the parking lot of the Tops supermarket, three of them fatally, then went inside and continued firing, Gramaglia said. Among those killed inside the store was
‘UNITED AS ONE’: Photos showed people working on farms or walking in a North Korean town, indicating that a lockdown does not require people to stay home North Korea yesterday imposed a nationwide lockdown to control its first acknowledged COVID-19 outbreak after saying for more than two years that it had a perfect record keeping out the virus that has spread to nearly every place in the world. The size of the outbreak was not immediately known, but it could have serious consequences, because the country has a poor healthcare system and its 26 million people are believed to be mostly unvaccinated against COVID-19. Some experts say that the North, by its admission of an outbreak, might be seeking outside aid. The North’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said that