Feb 08


Legal Case Brought to Obtain Information from Facebook on Cambodian Regime Abuses—Hun Sen’s Government Accused of Abusing Facebook’s Platform to Mislead Electorate


8 February 2018

The founder of Cambodia’s leading opposition party, Sam Rainsy, has filed a legal case in U.S. federal court seeking information from Facebook related to alleged abuses committed by the ex-Khmer Rouge commander and current Cambodian Prime Minister, Mr Hun Sen.


Mr. Sam’s Petition seeks critical information in Facebook’s possession regarding Hun Sen’s misuse of social media to deceive Cambodia’s electorate and to commit human rights abuses.  The information will aid Mr. Sam’s legal defense in cases filed against him in Cambodia. One key issue is Hun Sen’s alleged falsification of his popularity by using “click farms” to generate millions of fake “likes” on his Facebook account.  More recently, Hun Sen has used the platform to make death threats against political opponents, including Mr. Sam.  Such activity violates Facebook’s policies and terms of use.


The Petition seeks disclosure of Hun Sen’s misuse of the site, including his use of State money to advertise.  It highlights the role that Facebook plays in countries like Cambodia, where traditional media and access to information has been suppressed.  Evidence in Facebook’s possession will help shed light on Hun Sen’s effort to manipulate social media to further suppress public discourse. “We are counting on Facebook to help shed light on the regime’s manipulation of technology. If Hun Sen has nothing to hide, he should support our investigation of his activities,” said Mr. Sam.


Hun Sen and his family have come under intense criticism from the United Nations, human rights groups, as well as the U.S. government, for a variety of recent abuses.  These include alleged extra-judicial killings, suppression of the free press, illegal detention of opponents, and Hun Sen’s dissolution of Cambodia’s only serious opposition party.  These actions were taken in the run-up to upcoming elections, scheduled for July 2018.


“Facebook was initially a force for good in Cambodia, helping its citizens to share information despite the government’s suppression of the independent media” said Mr. Sam’s attorney, Richard J Rogers of Global Diligence LLP.  “However, in the last few years, the Facebook platform has been misused and manipulated by Cambodia’s autocratic dictator, intent on maintaining power at all costs. The Petition raises fundamental questions about how Facebook should deal with human rights abusers who manipulate elections. We appreciate that Facebook faces many challenges and look forward to working with them constructively.”




The lawsuit was brought in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, styled In re. Ex Parte Application for Discovery from Facebook, Inc., Case No. DCAN-3-18-MC-080024-001 (N.D. Cal.).

Petitioner Sam Rainsy is represented by pro bono counsel J. Noah Hagey and Matthew Borden of San Francisco-based complex litigation firm BraunHagey & Borden LLP, and by Richard J Rogers of Global Diligence LLP, a London-based human rights firm.  For U.S. inquiries, contact Noah Hagey at Hagey@braunhagey.com.  For non-U.S. inquiries, contact Richard J Rogers at richardrogers@globaldiligence.com.