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Annan lauds dismissal of charges against activists

Annan lauds dismissal of charges against activists in Cambodia

Saying he was pleased that Cambodia’s Government has dropped all defamation charges against four human rights activists, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today voiced hope for further progress in the impoverished Southeast Asian country.

Kem Sokha, President of the Cambodia Centre for Human Rights, and his deputy, Pa Nguon Tean, were two of the four who had been charged with defamation, according to a statement released today by the Secretary-General’s spokesman in New York.

With the dropping of the charges, the statement said Mr. Annan “hopes that in the future these and other human rights activists in Cambodia will be allowed to carry out their essential work without interference.”

Cambodian authorities had released Mr. Kem and his deputy, along with two other activists, from jail earlier this month after arresting him on New Year’s Eve.

Mr. Kem’s arrest had prompted UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour to warn that this and other detentions of activists were threatening progress in the war-ravaged country.

Cambodia emerged from decades of civil war, including the Khmer Rouge genocide, with the signing of the UN-brokered Paris Peace Agreement in 1991 that set the country on the road to developing a civil society, however many problems remain.

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