The head of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights appeared for questioning at Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday over the case of former CNRP leader Kem Sokha, who remains jailed on treason charges for allegedly colluding with the US to topple the government.
Chak Sopheap, executive director of CCHR, was questioned for two hours by Investigating Judge Ky Rithy related to her work under the management of CCHR then-director Mr Sokha in the early 2000s.
“I came to the court today as a witness,” Ms Sopheap said after the questioning. “He asked me about my working experiences and my work at CCHR since the beginning. He asked me how the work of CCHR was under the management of Mr Sokha as well as the current situation.”
“The CCHR hopes to see the court procedure carried out independently, especially ensuring the rights of relevant people including witnesses and the accused person,” Ms Sopheap added.
Mr Sokha was arrested on treason charges last year, after which the CNRP was dissolved by the Supreme Court in November and its 118 senior party members barred from politics for five years.
On Tuesday, former human rights worker Kry Song, also one of eight people summoned for questioning in the case, appeared at the court.
Those summoned also include Pa Nguon Teang, executive director of the Cambodian Centre for Independent Media, Sia Phearum, executive director of the Housing Rights Task Forces and Meas Kimseang, former director of the Sahmakum Teang Tnaut.
Mr Kimseang showed up at the court yesterday afternoon, according to court spokesman Y Rin. Mr Kimseang could not be reached for comment.
Soeng Sen Karuna, a senior monitor at rights group Adhoc, expressed his concerns that the government pressured civil society by having people summoned for questioning.
“We are worried when the court summons civil society leaders and activists because it affects their feelings and wastes their time as they need to go to the provinces to help people,” Mr Sen Karuna said.
Judge Rithy declined to comment.