Former Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen (C) arrives at the National Assembly during a plenary session in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 22 August 2023. EFE-EPA FILE/KITH SEREY

Meta rejects recommendation to suspend former Cambodian PM’s Facebook account

Bangkok, Aug 30 (EFE).- Social media giant Meta has rejected a recommendation from its oversight board to suspend the Facebook account of former Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen for posting a violent video.

In a statement, the parent company of Facebook said that it had removed the video and applied appropriate account-level penalties to the account.

“There is not currently any basis to suspend Hun Sen’s account under our policies,” it stated.

“Upon assessing Hun Sen’s Facebook Page and Instagram account, we determined that suspending those accounts outside our regular enforcement framework would not be consistent with our policies, including our protocol on restricting accounts of public figures during civil unrest,” the company underlined.

Meta’s oversight board, which is an independent body advising the company on ethics issues, had requested in June that Hun Sen’s accounts be suspended for six months for posting “violent” content.

The controversy unfolded earlier this year when the former prime minister posted a video in January, in which he threatened to send supporters to “beat up” his opponents and critics in their homes.

Meanwhile the Cambodian government has welcomed Meta’s decision as a “fair judgement” and claimed that it “confirms the integrity” of the content on Hun Sen’s Facebook account.

The government said it would “welcome” Meta representatives to continue their work in Cambodia including the 22 members of the oversight board, who were previously declared persona-non-grata in the country.

Earlier, the Cambodian government had claimed that the recommendation to suspend its former leader’s account was made on grounds of “political behavior” and was against the freedom of press, dubbing it interference in Cambodia’s internal affairs.

Hun Sen, who had removed his Facebook account in June following the controversy, reactivated it just days before the July 23 elections that his party won by an overwhelming majority, after the main opposition party was barred from competing due to bureaucratic obstacles.

Three days after the elections, Hun Sen, who had ruled Cambodia with an iron fist since 1985, announced his resignation and handed over power to his son, Hun Manet, who officially assumed office on August 22.

Hun Sen had created his Facebook account in 2015, after the Cambodian opposition started using the platform to attract support from the young generation.

The 71-year-old had been one of the world’s longest-serving leader with an uninterrupted reign and continues to hold significant influence as chairman of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP). EFE