We, in the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict-Southeast Asia, condemn the murder of Dr. Kem Ley, a resource person of Working Group for Peace (WGP) in Cambodia, our focal point for Cambodia. His death is a loss for the people’s movement in Cambodia and the region. We are one with his family and our members in Cambodia in their mourning, and in the search for resolution and justice for his death.

Last Sunday, July 10, Dr. Ley, an independent political analyst and grassroots organizer, was shot and killed at Bokor Caltex Starmart in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. One of his suspected attacker was arrested shortly after, but the real reason for his murder remains unclear. What is definite, however, is that Dr. Ley is a prominent critic to Cambodian government, political parties and aid agencies, and recognized as an independent analyst. He is well-loved by his family and his peers in the civil society movement in Cambodia and region..

We join the calls for a prompt, independent and thorough investigation, including a forensic examination by an independent and expert pathologist, so that Dr. Ley and his family can receive justice.

Further, we demand the Cambodian government to protect the life and liberty of all citizens, including political analysts, activists and human rights defenders. Particularly, we ask that the government to:

Ensure to bring justice through fair/transparent and thorough investigation and judiciary mechanism of the murder case;
Ensure safety, security, and peace for every citizen especially political analysts and activists; and
Accountable and responsible to the protection of activity and human rights defenders and guarantee the democratic space and freedom of expression

Dr. Ley’s murder demonstrates how whilst fighting for people’s human security, the irony is that human rights defenders and peace builders themselves need to be protected. His death and many others’ underscore the need for States and regional intergovernmental organizations, such as the ASEAN, to protect human rights defenders from the very harms from which they selflessly protect us. ###