Urgent Interventions

Cambodia: Arbitrary detention of Mr. Pa Nguon Teang

New Information - KHM 001 / 0106 / OBS 001.1

Arbitrary detention / Judicial proceedings

January 10, 2006

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Cambodia.

New information:

The observatory has been informed of the arrest of Mr. Pa Nguon Teang, Deputy Director of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights (CCHR), and Producer of the CCHR Voice of Democracy radio programme.

According to the information received, on January 3, 2006, Mr. Pa Nguon Teang and Mr. Ou Virak, CCHR public relation officer, went to the villages of the north-eastern province of Stung Treng to meet some local people and discuss about human rights. On January 4, 2006, Mr. Pa Nguon Teang and Mr.Ou Virak, along with another friend (whose name is not available), decided to go to the Cambodian-Laotian border as some of the villages they visited were near the border. As they approached the border checkpoint to see around, they were held by the border police, which then arrested Mr. Pa Nguon Teang. The latter said that the police had his name on a list for arrest ordered by their national police officers.

The police brought back Mr. Pa Nguon Teang to Phnom Penh, and went directly to the Ministry of Interior, where Mr. Pa Nguon Teang was detained during the night.

On January 4, 2006, government spokesman Mr. Khieu Kanharith stated that Mr. Pa Nguon Teang had been detained for interrogation regarding his role in the International Human Rights Day celebration on December 10, 2005 but had not been charged. On the same day, Mr. Muth Mao, head of the police in Stung Treng, confirmed that the CCHR Deputy Director had been arrested at the border checkpoint under orders from the Ministry of Interior but gave no further details.

On January 5, 2006, Mr. Pa Nguon Teang was brought to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court and the Investigating Judge questioned him for about two hours about the banner used by CCHR during the December 10 International Human Rights Day celebration. On the same day, he was charged with criminal defamation and brought to Prey Sar prison near Phnom Penh, where Mr. Kem Sokha, CCHR President, and Mr. Yeng Virak, Director of the Community Legal Education Center (CLEC) and a member of the organising committee of the celebration, are also detained. Both were charged with defamation on December 31, 2005, in connection with banners displayed at the International Human Rights Day event (see background information).

Background information:

On December 10, 2005, a group of 63 NGOs, including CCHR and CLEC, organised a celebration of the 57th international human rights day with a gathering including booth displays, where participating NGOs displayed their activities and products. Thousands of people participated in the event, which was guarded by police officers and closely monitored by plain-clothes police officers. One of the booths was occupied by CCHR. It was decorated with old banners, which were used in 2003 and had slogans printed in Khmer script: “My vote is my life” and “I don’t vote for any party that sows fear to the people”.

The banners also had handwritings on them written by the people who participated in CCHR public activities in 2003, some of which allegedly criticised the policies of Cambodian Prime Minister Mr. Hun Sen. At around 11:00 a.m., CCHR staff members manning the booth were informed by the steering committee that the police authorities had complained about the banners displayed at the stall. Upon receiving this information, CCHR staff members decided to remove the banners.

After the arrest of Mr. Kem Sokha, Mr. Pa Nguon Teang took over the management of CCHR as the acting president.

On January 4, 2006, the High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed deep regret over the arrests of Mr. Kem Sokkha et Mr. Yeng Virak.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Cambodia urging them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Pa Nguon Teang, Mr. Kem Sokha and Mr. Yeng Virak;

ii. Release immediately Mr. Pa Nguon Teang, Mr. Kem Sokha and Mr. Yeng Virak, and ensure that all charges against them be dropped, as they are arbitrary;

iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment against Mr. Pa Nguon Teang, Mr. Kem Sokha and Mr. Yeng Virak, as well as all other human rights defenders in Cambodia;

iv. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially its article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, article 6(b), which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others (...) to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms”, and its article 8(2), which provides that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to submit to governmental bodies and agencies and organisations concerned with public affairs criticism and proposals for improving their functioning and to draw attention to any aspect of their work that may hinder or impede the promotion, protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms”;

v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Cambodia.


  • Mr. Hun Sen, Prime Minister, Office of the Prime Minister, Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia, Fax: +855 23 36 06 66 / 855 23 88 06 24 (c/o Council of Ministers), Email:

  • Mr. Sok An, Deputy Prime Minister, Fax: + 855 23 88 06 24, Email:

  • Mr. Sar Kheng, Deputy Prime Minister and Co-Minister of Interior, Ministry of Interior, 275 Norodom Blvd, Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia, Fax: + 855 23 21 27 08

  • Mr. Hor Nam Hong, Minister of Foreign Affairs, 161 Preah Sisowath Quay, cnr rue 204, Phnom Penh
    Kingdom of Cambodia, Fax: + 855 23 21 61 44 / + 855 23 21 61 42

  • Mr. Om Yentieng, President of the Cambodian Human Rights Committee, Office of the Prime Minister, Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia, Fax: +855 12 81 37 81 / +855 23 21 11 62 or +855 23 88 10 45 (c/o Council of Ministers)

  • Ambassador Mr. Vun Chheang, Permanent Mission of Cambodia to the United Nations in Geneva, Chemin de Taverney 3, Case postale 213, 1218 Grand-Saconnex, Switzerland, Fax: + 41 22 788 77 74

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Cambodia in your respective countries.

Geneva-Paris, January 10, 2006

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.
The Observatory was the winner of the 1998 Human Rights Prize of the French Republic.

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Tel et fax FIDH : + 33 1 43 55 20 11 / 33 1 43 55 18 80
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