On 1 March, as part of the ongoing mass trials conducted in Cambodia against members of the opposition, activists, supporters and human rights defenders, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court sentenced nine leaders of the opposition in exile to 20 to 25 years in prison. They have also been deprived of their political rights to vote and stand in elections. The verdict was pronounced after swift trials conducted in absentia. The accused were not allowed to return to the country to defend their cases in court, in what appears to be a violation of due process rights, firmly established by international human rights law.
All Cambodian citizens, regardless of their political affiliation, should be guaranteed the right to a fair trial, in accordance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the rights enshrined in Cambodia’s Constitution. The Cambodian authorities must respect the rule of law and due process, and ensure that the right to political participation and fundamental freedoms are fully respected, including freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly. The European Union reiterates its call on the Cambodian authorities to initiate a process of national reconciliation through genuine and inclusive dialogue.