Cambodia: Only an Independent and Credible Investigation of Kem Ley’s Murder will Ensure Justice
10 July 2017 8:30 am
(Bangkok, 10 July 2017) – On the first anniversary of the murder of prominent Cambodian activist Kem Ley, the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) calls on the Cambodian authorities to ensure the investigation into his killing is independent and credible. Only a thorough investigation uncovering whether anyone else is behind Ley’s murder will bring justice to his family and the Cambodian people.
Kem Ley, a prominent activist, political analyst, and government critic, was shot dead on the morning of 10 July 2016 at a gas station’s coffee shop in Phnom Penh. The Police immediately arrested an alleged perpetrator. After the sentencing of the perpetrator in March 2017, several inconsistencies remain unaddressed. The inadequacy of the investigation is exemplified by the confusion surrounding the perpetrator’s identity and confession. Against this backdrop, suspicion of underlying political motives behind Ley’s murder remains strong.
The past years have been marked by an increasing repression of fundamental freedoms in the country. The continuous harassment of human rights defenders and government critics, combined with the adoption of repressive laws, further compromises the space for dissenting voices to express themselves without fear of retaliation or risk to their lives. Kem Ley’s assassination further increases the concern that no one deemed to be critical is safe in Cambodia.
Massive numbers of people gathered to join Kem Ley’s funeral procession in July 2016. On 8 and 9 July 2017, thousands of people gathered at Ley’s hometown, Takeo, paying respects to a man who strongly advocated for democracy, good governance and human rights in Cambodia. These people and Kem Ley’s family deserve to know the truth about what happened one year ago. For this, FORUM-ASIA calls on the Cambodian authorities to conduct an independent and credible investigation into Ley’s killing, and eradicate the culture of fear spreading in the country by upholding their human rights obligations and commitments.
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