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Cambodia
27.05.22
Urgent Interventions

Cambodia: Rejection of the appeal of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association members

URGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY

New information
KHM 001 / 0616 / OBS 047.7
Sentencing /
Judicial harassment
Cambodia
May 27, 2022

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Cambodia.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed about the rejection of the appeal of Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC) President Mr. Ny Sokha, ADHOC staff members Mr. Yi Soksan and Ms. Lim Mony, and former ADHOC staff members Mr. Nay Vanda and Mr. Ny Chakrya.

On May 23, 2022, the Court of Appeals in Phnom Penh upheld the conviction and five-year prison sentences handed down against the five human rights defenders by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on September 26, 2018, after the Court found Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan, Nay Vanda and Lim Mony guilty of “bribery of a witness” (Article 548 of the Cambodian Criminal Code) and Ny Chakrya accomplice to the same crime under Articles 548 and 29 of the Criminal Code. At the time, the 14 months the five human rights defenders had already spent in pre-trial detention were considered as time already served and the remainder of their sentence was suspended. As a result, Yi Soksan, Nay Vanda, Ny Sokha, Ny Chakrya and Lim Mony remained free.

The Observatory recalls that on April 27 and 28, 2016, Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan, Nay Vanda, Ny Chakrya, and Lim Mony were brought in for questioning by the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) in relation to a bribery and corruption case[1]. On May 2, 2016, Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan, Nay Vanda and Lim Mony were charged with “bribery of a witness” under Article 548 of the Criminal Code and detained. In addition, Ny Chakrya was charged with being “accomplice to bribery of a witness” under Articles 29 and 548 of the Criminal Code and was also detained.

On June 29, 2017, after multiple bail denials and pre-trial detention extensions, Investigating Judge Theam Chanpiseth ordered the release on bail of Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan, Nay Vanda, Ny Chakrya and Lim Mony. They were all released from Phnom Penh’s Prey Sar and Police Judiciaire prisons, where they had been arbitrarily incarcerated for 427 days in pre-trial detention on trumped-up charges. The decision came after the Judge closed the investigation and sent the case to trial.

The Observatory further recalls that, on November 21, 2016, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) declared the detention of Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan, Nay Vanda, Ny Chakrya, and Lim Mony arbitrary, and called on the Cambodian authorities to immediately release the five human rights defenders and award them appropriate compensation.

The Observatory underlines that this case is part of a pattern of judicial harassment against current and former ADHOC staff members. In a separate case, on September 22, 2016, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court sentenced Ny Chakrya to six months in prison and a 6 million riel (approximately 1,380 Euros) fine, after finding him guilty of charges of “public defamation”, “acts of slanderous denunciation”, and “commentaries to put pressure on jurisdiction” under Articles 305, 311, and 522 of the Cambodian Criminal Code respectively. The charges stemmed from a press conference held by Ny Chakrya on May 12, 2015, in Siem Reap, during which he condemned the arbitrary arrest and detention of two villagers involved in land disputes in Siem Reap Province.

The Observatory strongly condemns the ongoing judicial harassment against Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan, Nay Vanda, Ny Chakrya, and Lim Mony, which seems to be in retaliation for their peaceful and legitimate human rights activities. The Observatory urges the Cambodian authorities to quash the sentence of the five human rights defenders, to provide them with adequate compensation in accordance with the decision of the UN WGAD, and to put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against them and all other human rights defenders in the country.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Cambodia to urge them to:

  1. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan, Nay Vanda, Ny Chakrya, and Lim Mony, and all other human rights defenders in Cambodia;
  1. Quash the sentence of Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan, Nay Vanda, Ny Chakrya, and Lim Mony and provide them with adequate compensation in accordance with the decision of the UN WGAD;
  1. Put an end to all acts of harassment - including at the judicial level - against Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan, Nay Vanda, Ny Chakrya, and Lim Mony, and all other human rights defenders in Cambodia, and ensure that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities in all circumstances without any hindrance and fear of reprisals.

Addresses:

  • Mr. Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia. Email: leewood_phu@nida.gov.kh / cppparty@gmail.com
  • Mr. Sar Kheng, Minister of Interior and Deputy Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia. Email: moi@cambodia.gov.kh
  • Mr. Ly Chantola, President of the Cambodian Bar Association. Email: info@bakc.org.kh
  • Ambassador Mr. Ney Samol, Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Cambodia to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Email: camemb.gva@mfa.gov.kh

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

***

Paris-Geneva, May 27, 2022

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

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

  • E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
  • Tel FIDH: + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18
  • Tel OMCT: + 41 22 809 49 39

[1] In March 2016, Ms. Khom Chandaraty (aka Srey Mom) had requested the assistance of ADHOC in connection with her interrogation by anti-terrorism police and a prosecutor about an alleged affair with deputy opposition leader Mr. Kem Sokha. ADHOC responded to Srey Mom’s request for legal and material assistance and provided a 204 US dollar (approximately 190 Euros) allowance to cover her food and transportation costs. This legitimate support, aimed at covering the basic expenses of a client, was subsequently construed by the ACU as bribery and corruption.

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