Cambodian authorities are refusing to allow doctors from the human rights group Licadho to visit a jailed opposition lawmaker held at Prey Sar prison in the capital Phnom Penh, claiming the facility already provides adequate care, sources said.
Their refusal constitutes a form of “discrimination” against Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) senator Hong Sok Hour, who was arrested in August after challenging Cambodia’s ruling party on its handling of a border dispute with neighboring Vietnam, the senator’s lawyer told RFA’s Khmer Service on Wednesday.
“This is nothing more than discrimination against an opposition party member,” the senator’s lawyer, Chhoung Chou Ngy, told RFA.
Chhoung Chou Ngy said that he had earlier asked the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to allow a Licadho doctor to visit his client, who suffers from a stomach ailment, but that the court had refused permission.
And though doctors from Licadho were allowed at that same time to provide medical care to other prisoners, they have now been banned from all contact with anyone held at Prey Sar, he said.
Questions over border
Hong Sok Hour was arrested by Cambodian police on Aug. 15 after Prime Minister Hun Sen accused him of treason for posting on Facebook a disputed diplomatic document relating to the country’s border with neighboring Vietnam.
He was then charged with forging a public document and with incitement to cause social unrest, and was sent to Prey Sar.
In an ongoing dispute with the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP)—the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP)—a merged political grouping that includes the SRP and is led by Sam Rainsy--contends that Vietnam has been encroaching on Cambodian territory at various spots along the 1,228-kilometer (763-mile) border.
It has also accused the government of ceding land to Vietnam, which invaded and occupied Cambodia in 1979, by using incorrect maps to determine border demarcations.
Licadho had been permitted since 1992 to send doctors to treat patients in 18 prisons across Cambodia, but is now banned from Prey Sar because political opposition figures are jailed there, said senior Licadho investigator Am Sam Ath.
“We are very disappointed, because we were formerly allowed to provide medical treatment [at Prey Sar],” he said, adding that his group’s motivations are strictly humanitarian.
“We treat not only prisoners, but also prison guards,” he said.
Reported by Morm Moniroth for RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Samean Yun. Written in English by Richard Finney.