Cambodia
20.11.14
Urgent Interventions

Judicial harassment against Venerable Luon Sovath

KHM 005 / 1114 / OBS 089
Judicial harassment
Cambodia
November 20, 2014

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.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the judicial harassment against Venerable Luon Sovath, a Buddhist monk from the Chi Kreng Pagoda in Siem Reap. Luon Sovath is a land rights defender known for his campaigns against forced evictions. He is also a recipient of the 2012 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders (MEA).

According to the information received, Venerable Luon Sovath will be tried on November 25, 2014, on charges of allegedly inciting and leading demonstrations against the Government in Chi Kreng, Siem Reap, and Boeung Kak Lake, Phnom Penh. If found guilty, Venerable Luon Sovath could face up to two years in prison and a fine of USD 1,000 (approximately EUR 797.4).The trial of Venerable Luon Sovath stems from a separate prosecution that started in November 2011. On November 2, 2011, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court charged Venerable Loun Sovath with incitement to committing a felony (Article 495 of the Penal Code) under case No. 3395. Mr. Sourn Serey Ratha, labelled a terrorist by the Cambodian People's Party (CPP), is also charged under the same case.

On August 20, 2012, case No. 3395 went to trial for the first time. Venerable Sovath and Mr. Sourn Serey Ratha were tried in absentia. The judge’s verdict called for a reinvestigation of the case due to lack of evidence and ordered the prosecutor to separate the case into two separate proceedings, citing lack of evidence connecting Venerable Sovath and Mr. Sourn Serey Ratha to each other. There is no evidence that a new case number was ever assigned.

On September 2014, Mr. Sourn Serey Ratha's lawyer informed about a new trial against Venerable Sovath. The court summons contained three cases against Mr. Sourn Serey Ratha, including the original case No. 3395, which had been combined into one new case numbered No. 3395, to be tried on September 18, 2014. The summons listed all charges of all three cases as charges against Venerable Sovath: incitement against Government (Article 495 of the Penal Code), plotting against the Government (Article 453 of the Penal Code), and prohibiting and provoking people not to vote (Article 124 of the Election Law). The lawyers requested to postpone the trial because of short notice and on September 18, 2014, the judge agreed to delay the start of the trial to an unknown date.

On October 30, 2014, Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO) and Community Legal Education Center (CLEC) lawyers received court summons for Venerable Loun Sovath for a new trial to be held on November 25, 2014. This court summons listed only the original 2011 charge of incitement to commit a felony (Article 495 of the Penal Code).

Actions requested:

The Observatory urges the authorities of Cambodia to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Venerable Luon Sovath, and all human rights defenders in Cambodia.

ii. Guarantee the right to peaceful assembly to human rights defenders in Cambodia.

iii. 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, in particular:

- its 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”;
- its Article 5 (a), which states that “for the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, at the national and international levels: (a) To meet or assemble peacefully”;
- and its Article 12.2, which states 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”.

iv. 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, 41 Russian Federation Blvd, Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia. Fax: +855 23 360666 / 855 23 880624 (c/o Council of Ministers), Email: leewood_phu@nida.gov.kh / cppparty@gmail.com
· Mr. Sar Kheng, Minister of Interior, Ministry of Interior, 275 Norodom Blvd, Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia. Fax: + 855 23 212708.
· Mr. Ang Vong Vathna, Minister of Justice, Ministry of Justice, 240 Sothearos Blvd, Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia. Fax: +855 23 364119.
· Mr. Hor Nam Hong, Minister of Foreign Affairs, 161 Preah Sisowath Quay, Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia. Fax: + 855 23 216144 / + 855 23 216939. Email: mfaic@mfa.gov.kh
· Ms. Maria Fariello, Human Rights Defenders Focal Point, Delegation of the European Union to Cambodia, No. 100 A, Preah Norodom Boulevard, Khan Daun Penh, 12207 Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Fax: +855 23 216 997 Email: Delegation-Cambodia@eeas.europa.eu
· Mr. Ke Sovann, Deputy Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of the Kingdom 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 or cambodge@bluewin.ch

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