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Cambodia: Treatment of members of the Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) by the government authorities and/or members of the Cambodian People's Party (CPP); whether members of the CPP attempted to eliminate members of the SRP (2001-2003)

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 22 May 2003
Citation / Document Symbol KHM41578.FE
Reference 1
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Cambodia: Treatment of members of the Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) by the government authorities and/or members of the Cambodian People's Party (CPP); whether members of the CPP attempted to eliminate members of the SRP (2001-2003), 22 May 2003, KHM41578.FE, available at: [accessed 30 November 2015]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

In September 2001, the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee, a coalition of 18 non-governmental organizations (NGOs), documented over 80 cases of political threats and violence (Human Rights Watch 2002). The sources consulted indicated that most incidences of intimidation and political violence were directed at the opposition Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) (ibid.; European Union 2002, 26). A special report by Human Rights Watch on the commune elections in Cambodia in February 2002 stated that, between 1 January 2001 and 3 February 2002, there were many reports of death threats (24 incidents), acts of intimidation (over 200 cases including the death threats), arbitrary detentions (23 cases), violations of property rights (50 cases) and murders (15 cases) targeting members or supporters of political parties opposing the Cambodian People's Party (CPP) (Apr. 2002). The European Union reported that "local officials (village or commune level), CPP party representatives, or police or military" were responsible for the intimidation of opposition party candidates and members in numerous cases (European Union 2002, 27). According to the sources consulted, eight members of the SRP were assassinated between 3 January 2001 and 5 January 2002 (ibid., 24-25; Human Rights Watch Apr. 2002; United Nations Mar. 2002, 21).

"Most of these incidents were motivated at least in part by local political rivalries or the victims' role in publicizing local abuses of power" (Human Rights Watch 2001). For its part, the European Union stated in a report on the February 2002 elections that, "[w]hilst some of the deaths were clearly accidents or resulted from personal disputes, it is also clear in some instances that the involvement of local-level officials, either civil or military, raised the possibility of a local political dimension to some of the crimes" (European Union 2002, 24). An article from the pro-SRP Cambodian newspaper Samleng Yuveakchon Khmer accused the CPP of having participated in the intimidation and murder of individuals associated with the opposition parties during the 2002 pre-election campaign (30 Oct. 2002). No additional information on CPP attempts to eliminate members of the SRP could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints for this Response.

With regard to the murder of opposition activists, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights reported that "there were serious shortcomings in the police investigations and in the subsequent judicial process, including a reluctance to probe possible political motives" (Country Reports 2001 4 Mar. 2002, Sec. 1.a). Peter Leuprecht, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Human Rights in Cambodia, expressed concern over the judicial process used (United Nations 18 Dec. 2002, 13). According to Human Rights Watch, "the attacks conveyed the message that involvement in politics could be life threatening" (2001).

Peter Leuprecht's report on the human rights situation in Cambodia indicated that, between February 2002 and the end of November 2002, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia confirmed four murders of individuals affiliated with the SRP (United Nations 18 Dec. 2002, 14). In 2003, the SRP Website reported, among other news, that Nou Sath was arrested on 10 May 2003 for distributing SRP leaflets in the town of Phnom Penh (SRP 14 May 2003) and that a military commander committed acts of intimidation against another SRP member in March 2003 (ibid. 7 Mar. 2003).

According to Reporters without Borders, political parties did not get the same news media coverage in Cambodia – 82 per cent of the airtime went to the CPP (2 May 2003). Human Rights Watch, for its part, stated that the government denied a radio broadcast license to the SRP (Apr. 2002) as well as a television broadcast license (2002). The same source reported that the independent press affiliated with the political opposition in Cambodia was "subject to threats, closure and lawsuits" in 2002 (Human Rights Watch 2003).

No additional information on the treatment of members of the SRP by government authorities and/or CPP members could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints for this Response.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2001. 4 March 2002. United States Department of State. Washington, D.C. [Accessed 14 May 2003]

European Union. 2002. European Union Election Observation Mission. Cambodia Commune Council Elections 3 February 2002. [Accessed 16 May 2003]

Human Rights Watch (HRW). 2003. Human Rights Watch World Report 2003. [Accessed 14 May 2003]

_____. 2002. Human Rights Watch World Report 2002. [Accessed 14 May 2003]

_____. April 2002. Cambodia's Commune Elections: Setting the Stage for the 2003 National Elections. [Accessed 14 May 2003]

_____. 2001. Human Rights Watch World Report 2001. [Accessed 14 May 2003]

Reporters without Borders. 2 May 2003. "Cambodia - 2003 Annual Report." [Accessed 14 May 2003]

Sam Rainsy Party (SRP). 14 May 2003. "Opposition Supporter Jailed for Distributing Leaflets." [Accessed 15 May 2003]

_____. 7 March 2003. "Military Commander of Kep Municipality Intimidated SRP Activist." [Accessed 15 May 2003]

Samleng Yuveakchon Khmer [Phnom Penh, in Cambodian]. 30 October 2002. "Vietnam Said Training Cambodian Soldiers, Police to Intimidate, Kill Cambodians." (FBIS-EAS-2002-1112 30 Oct. 2002/WNC)

United Nations. 18 December 2002. Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Peter Leuprecht. Situation of Human Rights in Cambodia. (E/CN.4/2003/114) [Accessed 15 May 2003]

______. March 2002. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Report on the Elections of the Commune Councils. [Accessed 20 May 2003]

Additional Sources Consulted

The Europa World Year Book. 2002

IRB Databases


Political Handbook of the World. 1999

Political Parties of the World. 2002

Internet sites, including:

Amnesty International

CIA World Factbook


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Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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