On August 17, Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions, received a sentence of two years imprisonment for the vague charge of “incitement to commit a felony or cause social unrest.”
Activists Sar Kanika and Ton Nimol also were jailed for 20 months on incitement charges. Each individual was fined $500, and they were ordered to jointly pay $100,000 in damages to the Cambodia Border Affairs Committee.
On July 21, 2020, Rong Chhun had issued a statement alleging the placement of border posts resulted in Cambodian farmers losing ancestral land to Vietnam in Ponhea Kraek district, Tbong Khmum province.
That, authorities said, was incitement. Chhun received the maximum allowable sentence under the law, sparking a flurry of condemnation from rights groups.
Ministry of Justice spokesman Chin Malin replied:
“The legal procedures brought against [Chhun] were not due to his exercise of freedom of speech but because he had committed a crime. The authorities had a strong legal basis and evidence to bring the case to court and it led to these penalties.”