France Pushes Hun Sen on Human Rights Record
By and | February 7, 2013

French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault raised concerns over the controversial convictions against op­position leader Sam Rainsy and independent ra­dio station owner Mam So­nan­do during a meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday, France’s ambassador-in-waiting said on Tuesday.

Mr. Ayrault was on a two-day visit to Phnom Penh to attend Monday’s cremation of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk.

“The [French] prime minister …raised all the matters with Prime Minister Hun Sen, including the political matters,” said Serge Mostura, who is awaiting confirmation as France’s next am­bassador to Cambodia.

“He raised the cases that we all know about, the case of Mr. Sam Rainsy, the case of Mr. Mam So­nan­do, both of whom have French nationality,” he told reporters at a briefing at the French Embassy.

Mr. Ayrault also spoke to Mr. Hun Sen about French reporter Daniel Laine, who was convicted of procuring prostitution in absentia and handed a seven-year jail sentence by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court in 2010 in a decision upheld by the court last week, Mr. Mostura said.

“Prime Minister Hun Sen took note of our position and took note of our concerns and he took note of our remarks,” Mr. Mostura added. “Our dialogue was open and I hope there will be positive future developments.”

Mr. Rainsy, who leads the country’s political opposition to the ruling CPP, is living in France in self-imposed exile to avoid an 11-year jail sentence for uprooting wooden posts marking Cambo­dia’s unofficial border with Viet­nam and for posting maps of the frontier on­line. Mr. Sonando, an independent radio station owner and popular government critic, was sentenced to 20 years in jail in Oc­tober for allegedly fomenting a rural secessionist movement.

Both men, their supporters, and many independent observers, con­sider the charges to be politically motivated by a court system at the beck and call of a ruling party intolerant of any serious challenge to its authority.

Mr. Laine’s lawyers, along with a local rights group and an international press freedoms group, say he was framed in retaliation for his work as a journalist exposing Cambodia’s sex trade.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said he had no knowledge of Sunday’s meeting and referred questions to members of Mr. Hun Sen’s Cabinet, who could not be reached.

Mr. Sonando’s wife, Dinn Phannara, said Mr. Ayrault had enquired after her husband during a dinner at the French Embassy on Sunday.

“He asked about Sonando’s condition and his health in pris­on,” she said. “He also expres­sed his support for Sonando and encouraged him; he said he had asked the embassy to monitor his situation closely.”

Ms. Phannara said her 71-year-old husband has regularly complained of having a cold since his arrest in July and of suffering from a toothache and diarrhea.

U.S. President Barack Obama also raised Mr. Sonando’s case with Mr. Hun Sen while attending a regional summit here in November, calling him a political prisoner and urging his release at the risk of stalling bilateral relations.

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It’s a Sunday afternoon in Phnom Penh’s Boeung Keng Kang 1 commune, and Little Fashion is buzzing. Every weekend, the popular clothing shop fills with customers—not ordinary window shoppers, but loyal Facebook fans—all looking to try on or pick up whatever items caught their eye on social media that week.

About 70 workers from the Xing Chang Sin factory marched to the Ministry of Labor on Friday to demand intervention after the factory allegedly failed to pay wages for the past two months.

Interior Minister Sar Kheng on Friday sent CNRP President Sam Rainsy a draft of the CPP’s amendment to the Constitution and election law, which notably excluded any reference to immunity for members of what would be the new election management body, CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said.

More than 60 families have been evacuated from 11 villages in Tbong Khmum province, following flooding of the Mekong, local officials said Friday.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry on Friday defended the Cambodian Embassy and consulates in China, which have been accused of ignoring female citizens in peril there, and said it has made efforts to cut off the flow off women being sold into brothels or forced marriages.

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