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Cambodia
03.05.12
Urgent Interventions

Extrajudicial execution of environmental activist Mr. Chut Wutty

URGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY

KHM 002 / 0512 / OBS 047

Extrajudicial killing

Cambodia

May 3, 2012

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

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO) and the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights (CCHR) of the extrajudicial killing of prominent environmental activist Mr. Chut Wutty, Founder of the National Resources Protection Group (NRPG), in Mondol Seima district, Koh Kong province.

According to the information received, on April 26, 2012, Mr. Chut Wutty drove two journalists, Ms. Phorn Bopha and Ms. Olesia Plokhii, from the Cambodia Daily, to the Cardamom Mountains in Koh Kong province to report on illegal logging. Mr. Wutty and the two journalists stopped near a dwelling and began taking pictures of the surrounding. As Mr. Wutty was taking photographs, he was approached by an unknown man who told him to stop taking pictures and to leave the area. When they walked back to Mr. Wutty’s car, they were accosted by two men, one of whom appeared to be a soldier, who told Mr. Wutty and the two journalists that they could not leave until they have spoken to his ‘boss’. The soldier did not reveal his identity nor that of his superior.

The soldier prevented Mr. Wutty from getting into his car. Soon after, three armed men dressed in military police uniform and military fatigues arrived on a motorcycle. The situation escalated as the men confiscated cameras from Mr. Wutty and the two journalists. Realising the risky situation they were in, Mr. Wutty tried to drive away but the engine of his car would not start. Soon after agreeing to hand over his own camera, Mr. Wutty finally managed to start the engine and called for the two journalists to get into his car, but the soldiers stood in front of the car to block it from moving. It is at the moment that Ms. Plokhii was getting into the car that gunshots were fired. Neither Ms. Plokhii nor Ms. Bopha, who was in the backseat in a phone conversation with her editor-in-chief when the gunshots were heard, saw who fired the shots.

Mr. Wutty died on the scene. Mr. In Rattana, a military police officer, was found dead lying on the ground in front of the car. The two journalists were briefly detained for questioning and released in the evening of April 26, 2012 by the Koh Kong military police.

On April 27, 2012, military police spokesman Mr. Kheng Tito said that Mr. Rattana shot Mr. Wutty and then committed suicide. Mr. Tito went on to say that further investigation would be unlikely because the perpetrator is now dead. However, the government has since backtracked on these claims and announced the creation of a joint committee to investigate these two killings.

The Observatory is appalled by Mr. Chut Wutty's extrajudicial killing and conveys its deepest condolence to his family, friends and colleagues. The Observatory is alarmed by the fact that the shooting of Mr. Wutty is the seventh armed assault against human rights defenders since November 2011, six of which involved land activists and one involved a labour activist. The Observatory also recalls that in September 2011, members of the CCHR and the NRPG had faced acts of intimidation during a human rights training event conducted by both organisations for the Mean Rith community members affected by the ongoing deforestation and other land conflicts in Mean Rith commune, Sandan district, Kampong Thom province[1].

Defending economic, social and cultural rights has become increasingly risky for Cambodian human rights defenders, especially when their activities run up against powerful private interests who have benefited from economic land concessions granted by the Government as well as from protection of their concessions provided by State security forces. The Observatory strongly urges the Cambodian authorities to end the prevailing climate of impunity by establishing the full truth and bringing to justice all those responsible for these extrajudicial killings.

Actions requested:

Please write to the Cambodian authorities and ask them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of all human rights defenders in Cambodia;

ii. Ensure that investigations into the extrajudicial killings of Mr. Chut Wutty and Mr. In Rattana be conducted in a thorough, impartial, effective and transparent manner with a view to establish the truth, to identify all those responsible, bring them before a civil competent and impartial tribunal and apply to them the penal sanctions provided by the law;

iii. Provide adequate reparation to Messrs. Chut Wutty and In Rattana's relatives;

iv. Put an end to acts of harassment against all human rights defenders in Cambodia, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their work without hindrances;

v. Conform in any circumstances with the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted on December 9, 1998 by the United Nations General Assembly, and in particular :

- Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually or in association with others, to promote the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”,

- and Article 12.2 which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”.

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

Addresses:

· 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: leewood_phu@nida.gov.kh

· Mr. H.E. Ang Vong Vathna, Minister of Justice, No 240, Sothearos Blvd, Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia, Fax: 023 364119. Email: moj@cambodia.gov.kh

· Mr. Sar Kheng, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, Ministry of Interior, 275 Norodom Blvd, Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia, Fax: + 855 23 212708. Email: moi@interior.gov.kh

· Mr. Hor Nam Hong, Minister of Foreign Affairs, 161 Preah Sisowath Quay, Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia, Fax: + 855 23 21 61 44 / + 855 23 21 69 39. Email: mfaicasean@bigpond.com.kh

· Ambassador Mr. Sun Suon, 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. Email: camemb.gva@mfa.gov.kh; cambodge@bluewin.ch

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

***

Paris-Geneva, May 3, 2012

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

The Observatory, an 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.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

· Email: Appeals@fidh-omct.org

· Tel and fax OMCT: + 41 22 809 49 39 / 41 22 809 49 29

· Tel and fax FIDH: +33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / 01 43 55 18 80


[1] See Observatory Urgent Appeal KHM 002/0911/OBS 112, issued on September 8, 2011.

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