Three Cambodian activists arrested in Thailand won’t be deported to their residence nation, deputy police chief Surachate Hakparn advised Reuters on Wednesday. Hakparn mentioned the detainees can be resettled in a 3rd nation however will “positively” not be despatched again to Cambodia.
The announcement got here throughout Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet’s go to to Bangkok, the place he met together with his Thai counterpart Srettha Thavisin to strengthen the 2 international locations’ relationship. Thavisin stated the nations would work collectively to take care of stability, particularly alongside the border. He mentioned:
I’ve assured Prime Minister Hun Manet that it’s Thailand’s coverage to not enable anybody to make use of Thailand as a platform to intervene within the inner affairs or conduct dangerous actions in opposition to our neighboring international locations. We are going to strictly implement our legal guidelines and coverage on this respect.
Manet expressed his gratitude to Thavisin, re-affirming that the Cambodian authorities will likewise not intervene with Thai inner politics. Manet mentioned, “That is for the mutual respect [and] mutual good thing about our international locations to advertise stability and belief and confidence and in addition for the strengthening of our future relationship collectively.”
Thai authorities arrested the three human rights activists—Lem Sokha, Phan Phana, and Kung Raiya—with their households on Friday for immigration violations. The activists initially fled to Thailand to keep away from political persecution in Cambodia, and varied human rights teams criticized the Thai authorities for detaining the activists within the first place. Manushya Basis Founder Emilie Palamy Pradichit referred to as the arrests of the people and their households “unjust,” particularly contemplating 4 of the youngsters arrested have been underneath the age of six. “This highlights the tough actuality of transnational repression, the place Cambodian and Thai authorities are working hand in hand in opposition to these people,” Pradichit mentioned.
The Thai authorities, nevertheless, claimed that the people have been arrested as a result of they violated Thai legal guidelines. “[A]ccording to the immigration workplace, these activists have on the very least breached Thai immigration laws,” mentioned the Ministry of International Affairs. “Thailand respects freedom of expression and opinion, however that should adjust to Thai regulation.”
The Cambodian authorities has a historical past of arresting critics and banning opposition from holding elected workplace. This pattern has continued since Manet got here to energy final 12 months as his father’s successor. Manet’s father, Hun Sen, dominated Cambodia for almost 40 years by way of the Cambodia Folks’s Celebration previous to his son’s takeover. Hun Ship imposed strict crackdowns on opposing activists and politicians. In 2023, a report by Freedom Home discovered that Cambodia was “not free,” and the nation scored solely 24 out of 100 factors on its freedom index.