A former CNRP commune chief has been placed in pretrial detention in Phnom Penh after being extradited from Thailand, according to National Police, at least the third opposition official sent back from the neighboring country and imprisoned this month.
Lanh Thavry, a former commune chief in Banteay Meanchey province, was arrested by Thai authorities on Friday and handed over to Cambodian authorities on Saturday. She had fled to Thailand after the Supreme Court dissolved the CNRP in 2017.
Thavry’s arrest came after she began a petition collecting thumbprints from Cambodian workers in Thailand about the court announcing the sale of the former CNRP’s Phnom Penh headquarters to pay for defamation and other penalties. She was previously chief of Mongkol Borei district’s Russei Krork commune.
National Police spokesperson Chhay Kim Khoeun said this week that Thavry had been extradited over an incitement charge.
“Thailand implemented the immigration law to deport her from Thailand,” Kim Khoeun said. “Because we had an arrest warrant for her, we arrested her and sent her to court.”
Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director Phil Robertson said online that Thavry was recognized as a refugee by the U.N. He called for an immediate end to deporting refugees from Thailand back to Cambodia, saying it was a serious human rights violation.
Two other CNRP refugees, Voeung Samnang and Voeun Veasna, were extradited earlier this month.
The extraditions come amid pressure from the U.S. to sanction officials and review trade privileges. Dozens of political prisoners — including opposition, environmental and labor activists — were released earlier this month, though others had requests for bail denied. More than 60 political prisoners are estimated to remain in the country’s jails.