Alert: New guide on best practices to protect detained children from torture
Cambodia
22.11.13
Statements

CCHR and OMCT welcome Yorm Bopha's release after 444 days in prison

CCHR and OMCT welcome todays Supreme Court decision to temporarilyrelease Yorm Bopha and call on the Court of Appeal to promptly hear her caseand clear her name


22 November 2013 - The CambodianCenter for Human Rights (CCHR) and the WorldOrganization Against Torture (OMCT) welcome the decision of the SupremeCourt, handed down earlier today, to temporarily release land rights activistYorm Bopha pending the re-hearing of her case by the Court of Appeal.

Yorm Bopha was convicted on 27December 2012 and sentenced to three years in prison on charges of “intentional violencewith aggravating circumstances” under Article 218 of the Cambodian Criminal Code after she allegedlyordered an attack on two motorbike taxi drivers who she did not even know. InJune 2013, the Court of Appeal ruled that Yorm Bopha was not a directperpetrator of the assault but the instigator behind it, and reduced hersentence to two years.

Today’s hearing at the SupremeCourt saw Yorm Bopha’s defense lawyers pick to pieces any apparent evidenceused to convict Yorm Bopha, demonstrating quite clearly that the chargesagainst the land rights activist are bogus. CCHR and OMCT have consistentlycriticized the conviction of Yorm Bopha and in June 2013 CCHR released adetailed legal analysis of her charging and sentencingat the Phnom Penh Court of First Instance. The lack of legal basis for YormBopha’s conviction has lead to the widespread belief that the case against herwas fabricated in order to silence the activist, who has played a prominentrole in her community’s struggle against land grabbing and forced evictions inthe Boeng Kak area of Phnom Penh.

Yorm Bopha has already spent 444 days in prison for acrime that she did not commit. The Court of Appeal must act independently toimmediately review the case, schedule a new hearing for Yorm Bopha and finallysecure her freedom.

Accordingto CCHR President Ou Virak:It has been clear from the very beginning ofthis case that Yorm Bopha has been targeted for her activism in the context ofthe Boeng Kak community’s struggle for their rights. While today’s decision totemporarily release Bopha from jail is a welcome step, we must urge the AppealCourt to act quickly and to put an end to the suffering of Bopha and her familyonce and for all.”

“We arerelieved about Yorm Bopha’s conditional release after more than a year ofdetention that we believe was arbitrary. We urge the Court of appeal toschedule a new hearing quickly and to release her unconditionally” added OMCTSecretary General Gerald Staberock.

For more information, please contact Ou Virak viatelephone at +855 (0) 1240 4051 or e-mail at ouvirak@cchrcambodia.org, CCHR Consultant Orla Kelly via telephone at +855 (0)6772 7025 or e-mail at orla.kelly@cchrcambodia.org or OMCT Human Rights Adviser Seynabou Bengavia telephone at + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 or email at sb@omct.org.

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