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Stop Suppression of Speech in Cambodia

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We, the undersigned, urge you to condemn the recent Cambodian Supreme Court decision against former Nobel Peace Prize nominee, long-time womens rights activist, and Cambodian parliamentary member, Her Excellency Mu Sochua, in the alleged defamation case of Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The Cambodian Supreme Courts ruling on June 2, 2010 exemplifies politically-motivated targeting of opposition leaders by Prime Minister Hun Sen, lack of judicial accountability and fairness in the proceedings, and a denial of Cambodian citizens rights to freedom of expression and holding of their public officials accountable in the event of perceived breach of the law.

Earlier this year, the Cambodian government also initiated a politically-motivated lawsuit against Cambodian opposition leader, His Excellency Sam Rainsy, on the charges of falsifying public documents and distributing false information. H.E. Sam Rainsy could face up to 18 years in prison if found guilty.

As a result of H.E. Mu Sochua's and Sam Rainsy's cases, local human rights groups have decried freedom of expression in Cambodia to be in a "perilous state."

We are deeply concerned by the silencing of long-time, well-respected, and democratically-elected leaders who could be prevented from running in the next parliamentary elections. This would be a deep blow to democracy in Cambodia.

With more than US $60 million in assistance given to Cambodia in 2009, including in the areas of democratic reform and governance, the United States Government has the responsibility to denounce the Courts decision as a threat to freedoms of speech and expression and the rights to fair judicial process, transparency, and legal representation.

By failing to speak out against these rulings, the United States would undermine its long-cherished values of freedoms of speech and expression and the rights to an independent and impartial judicial process, equality before the law, and legal representation.

We urge you, Mr. President, to make a strong statement against the recent Cambodian Courts ruling in defense of our democratic values that serve to empower so many around the world.