SENATOR THE HON PENNY WONG

LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION IN THE SENATE

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

LABOR SENATOR FOR SOUTH AUSTRALIA

MEDIA RELEASE

6 September 2017

ARREST OF CAMBODIAN OPPOSITION LEADER

Labor is deeply concerned by the arrest on treason charges of the Cambodian Opposition Leader, Kem Sokha, and the continuing crackdown on political and press freedoms ahead of the country’s national elections.

We are particularly disturbed at reports that the Cambodian Government is charging Kem Sokha with treason on the basis of a speech he made in Melbourne in 2013.

As a matter of principle, Labor strongly believes the exercise of free speech in Australia should not be used as grounds for the arrest and charging of political opponents.

Just hours after his arrest, The Cambodia Daily, a longstanding English-language newspaper in Cambodia and outspoken voice for democracy, was shut after being forced into bankruptcy by the Cambodian Government.

Labor believes it is essential that Cambodia has a viable opposition and a free press in the lead up to national elections, and we are deeply concerned by any potential human rights violations that put this at risk.

Australia has a long history working with the Cambodian people to create a fairer and more democratic Cambodia. The Paris Peace Accords, in which Australia played a central role, promised the Cambodian people the right to free and fair elections.

It is entirely a matter for the Cambodian people which party they choose to govern them but the Cambodian people deserve the right to free and fair elections as they were promised in the Paris Peace accords.

Labor is deeply concerned about human rights violations, wherever they occur, and calls on the Turnbull Government to continue to speak out on this issue.