Cambodian opposition leader stripped of immunity, flees country

February 3, 2005

National flag of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Kampuchea

Sam Rainsy, leader of the opposition party in the Cambodian National Assembly, and two other members of his party, Chea Poch and Cheam Channy, have been stripped of parliamentary immunity. Rainsy has left the country, while Channy has been arrested.

Assembly members are immune to prosecution or arrest for expressing their opinions as part of their parliamentary duties. Armed forces surrounded the Assembly building in Phnom Penh during the vote Thursday, which requires a two-thirds super majority.

Speaking on behalf of the United States, State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli called on Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen's government to "allow all citizens to peacefully express their political views without fear of retribution or intimidation."