Authorities in Cambodia need to stop the systematic detention and harassment of activists, United Nations human rights experts urged on Monday.
In a statement, Mary Lawlor, the UN special reporter on the situation of human rights defenders, said at least 21 human rights defenders had been subjected to threats, arbitrary arrests and detentions in the past three months.
Several of the alarming cases involved the use of excessive force against activists, many of whom are women, Lawlor said.
After banning the main opposition party in 2017, Cambodia’s government, led by long time Prime Minister, Hun Sen, has pursued a wide-ranging crackdown against political opponents, critics and activists.
Those recently targeted include a prominent trade unionist and several environmental campaigners.
Also in the crosshairs are people protesting for the release of previously imprisoned activists, creating a circular pattern” of detentions, Lawlor noted. “This cycle must end,’’ she said.
The UN statement, signed by several prominent UN human rights figures, came as Cambodian authorities stepped up legal action against members of the now banned Cambodian National Rescue Party.
Some 67 activists and members of the CNRP have been summoned to appear in court this month, the Phnom Penh Post reported on Sunday.
The activists are accused of plotting against the government for supporting the aborted return of self-exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsy in 2019.