BERLIN: The United Nations human rights office called Friday for Cambodia to release detained human rights and environmental activists, saying at least two dozen have been arrested because of their work in recent weeks.
The Geneva-based U.N. office said about half of the 24 activists detained since July 31 have been released “reportedly after signing agreements under duress to discontinue human rights activities.” The other half remain under arrest, it said.
The global body said some of the activists were arrested after posting on Facebook that they planned to walk to Prime Minister Hun Sen's house to protest feared environmental destruction from the development of Boeung Tamok lake.
Several activists also received phone calls with death threats if they don't cease their activism, it said.
The U.N. human rights office said the incidents marked “a deepening of the government’s intolerance to dissent and repression of the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association” directed mainly at human rights organizations and environmentalists.
“We call on the government to immediately and unconditionally release those detained for their exercise of these rights, and to bring an end to the intimidation of civil society actors,” it said, adding that authorities should also “stop resorting to unnecessary and excessive force and intimidation against those engaged in peaceful protests.”