Cambodian Activists Sentenced to Prison

Cambodian Activists Sentenced to Prison
Cambodian Activists Sentenced to Prison

Ten members of a Cambodian environmental activist group that campaigned against destructive infrastructure projects and alleged corruption have been each sentenced to six years in prison on charges of conspiring against the state.

Three of the members of the group Mother Nature Cambodia were also convicted of insulting Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni, for which they were sentenced to an additional two years in prison, giving them a total of eight years behind bars.

Only five of the defendants attended the trial, the others were convicted in absentia.

They included four Cambodians whose whereabouts are unknown and Alejandro Gonzalez-Davidson, a Spanish national who co-founded the group and was deported in 2015 and barred from ever returning to Cambodia.

The five who attended the trial were arrested outside the court after the verdict and sentences were issued.

They had marched to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court with supporters, dressed in traditional white clothing worn at funerals, which they said represented the death of justice in Cambodia.

A number of diplomatic postings in Cambodia including the EU, UK, German, Swedish, US and Australian embassies posted statements on social media flagging their concerns about the judgment.

"Deeply concerned about increasing persecution & arrests of human rights defenders in Cambodia, such as the latest verdict on Mother Nature environmental activists," said the European Union's ambassador to Cambodia, Igor Driesmans, in a statement on X, formerly known as Twitter, that was shared by the French embassy.

"We call for the upholding of democratic standards & respect for human rights, including the right to peaceful protest."

A statement posted on the Australian embassy's X account said Australia was "seriously concerned".

"All Cambodians should be able to exercise their right to freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of opinion, without the fear of arrest and prosecution," the post said.