Cambodia: ICJ submits public comment to Oversight Board on the case of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s violent speech on Facebook

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has submitted a public comment to the Oversight Board in the case concerning a live video streamed on Hun Sen’s official Facebook page, where he threatened his political opponents to choose between the “legal system” and “a bat”.

The live video was streamed on Hun Sen’s Facebook page on 8 January 2023. In the speech, he addresses his political opponents directly, saying he may “gather CPP (Cambodian People’s Party) people to protest and beat you up”, and “send people to your place and home”.

In the submission, the ICJ reiterates the responsibility of Meta to moderate content on its platforms in line with international human rights law and standards, as reflected in the principles of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

The ICJ makes the following submissions to the Oversight Board:

  • Meta must assess whether Hun Sen’s call for violence against his political opponents, within the overall context of the poor human rights situation and democratic deficit in Cambodia in the lead-up to the July 2023 election, and the ongoing violence and crackdown against perceived political opponents, would lead to a real risk of human rights abuses and other harm to concerned persons;
  • Meta should prohibit content inciting violence, hostility or discrimination, in line with article 20(2), read together with article 19(3), of the ICCPR. Assessments on the severity of the harmful speech should be drawn from the six-factor test under the Rabat Plan of Action, which provides guidance on how to assess calls to violence by influential State actors in the context of upcoming elections and violence against political opponents; and
  • There is no “newsworthiness allowance” for expression inciting violence under international human rights law, and no discretion should be granted for forms of expression that are prohibited under international human rights law. More clarity is needed to ensure that Meta’s content moderation policies regarding the “newsworthiness allowance” is consistent, transparent and accessible.

The full public comment can be downloaded here.

More details on the case can be found here.


Daron Tan, ICJ Associate International Legal Adviser, e:

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