UN rights office voices concern at clampdown on political activism in Cambodia

According to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), 11 opposition activists are serving prison sentences of between seven and 20 years for participating in or leading an “insurrection.” Another opposition Member of Parliament is awaiting trial on charges that include incitement to commit crimes and forging public documents. “We stress that the right to peaceful assembly and to freedom of expression belongs to all individuals, regardless of their political or other opinion,” OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani told reporters in Geneva. On what appears to be an organised attack last Monday, a group of pro-government protesters in Phnom Penh verbally and physically assaulted opposition Members of Parliament and threatened the safety of the private residence of the National Assembly’s First Vice-President. Reports suggest that police and other state security forces looked on while the attacks took place – in stark contrast to their response to protests that have been organised in the past by groups criticizing the Government. “It is the Government’s responsibility to ensure that individuals are not targeted for their political affiliation or for expressing dissenting views,” said Ms. Shamdasani. OHCHR welcomed the establishment of an investigative commission into last Monday’s incident, but stressed that the investigation would only be credible if it was “independent, impartial, thorough and prompt.”“Those responsible for the violence must be brought to justice,” Ms. Shamdasani stated, while also urging the Government to take all necessary measures to ensure the security of all the democratically-elected representatives of the people of Cambodia, irrespective of their political affiliation. read more

Alesha MacPhails mother says teenage killers bid to cut his sentence is

The mother of Alesha MacPhail has pleaded with judges not to reduce the 27-year sentence handed to her daughter’s teenage killer.Aaron Campbell, 17, was jailed for life after abducting, raping and murdering the six-year-old schoolgirl, who was on holiday visiting her father and grandparents on the Isle of Bute.He snatched Alesha from her bed on July 2 last year before assaulting and killing her in woodland nearby. He told the child he was a friend of her father and he was taking her home.He was ordered in March to serve a minimum of 27 years in prison but will appeal against the length of the sentence on Wednesday before three judges at the Criminal Appeal Court in Edinburgh.His legal team is expected to argue that he is too young to be handed such a long sentence.Georgina Lochrane, Alesha’s mother, said in a statement on her “Justice for Alesha” page on Facebook that the claim was “laughable”. “Do not give him any more of the attention he craves because that is just what all this is about, attention.”Campbell denied murdering Alesha during his nine-day trial before confessing after being found guilty. Aaron Campbell is appealing against the length of his sentenceCredit:PA She added that the justice system now had a chance to make an example of Campbell – by potentially increasing his sentence – and urged the court to “grasp it with both hands”.Ms Lochrane, 24, from Airdrie, wrote: “We do not have any insight as to what the outcome will be on Wednesday and what will take place other than our prayers and hopes that our justice system does not fail Alesha or listen to his bull****. Georgina Lochrane wants to see Campbell’s sentence increasedCredit:Andrew Milligan/PA aaron campbell In a shocking series of admissions while background reports were being prepared before sentencing he declared himself “quite satisfied” with the murder and claimed he found it hard to avoid laughing during the trial.Alesha, who suffered 117 injuries in the attack, was only a few days into her summer holiday in Rothesay on Bute, where she was staying with her grandparents and her father, Robert MacPhail.After the schoolgirl’s body was found it was Campbell’s mother who called the police after she realised he had been coming and going from their house on the night of the murder.During the sentencing, the judge Lord Matthews said he was “shocked” when he read the “cold-blooded and horrific” account the killer had given to a psychologist.Campbell is being held at Polmont Young Offenders Institution in Falkirk. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. georgina lochrane read more