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Cambodia
11.04.14
Urgent Interventions

The NGO Ponlok Khmer threatened with closure

KHM 002 / 0414 / OBS 026

Obstacles to freedom of association/

Harassment

Cambodia

April 11, 2014

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

Brief description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by the CambodianCenter for Human Rights (CCHR) that the non-governmentalorganisation Ponlok Khmer has been threatened with closure. Ponlok Khmer is asmall NGO based in Preah Vihear province that supports ethnic minorities intheir efforts to protect their land rights[1].

According to the information received, on April 1, 2014, PreahVihear Provincial Governor Oum Mara sent a letter to the Ministry of Interior,demanding the closure of the local office of the NGO Ponlok Khmer. The letteraccused the NGO of inciting villagers to commit illegal activities.

Ponlok Khmer has been working withthe Kuoy villagers of Prame commune, Tbaeng Mean Chey district, Preah Vihear province,who have been involved in a land dispute with the Chinese company Roy FengInternational Co. Ltd. On April 1, 2014, the villagers decided todestroy the company’s sugarcane plantation as a sign of protest against thealleged encroachment on their community farmland. Mr. Lut Sang, a staffmember of Ponlok Khmer, was present to monitor the protest.

Followingthe protest, the Provincial Governor wrote a letter to the Minister ofInterior, detailing his intentions to close the Ponlok Khmer offices, to createa working group to meet with villagers and ask them to stop destroyingsugarcane, and to allow the Roy Feng Company to file a lawsuit against thecommunity leaders.

In addition,Mr. Lut Sang and two community leaders, Ms. Noun Mon and Ms. RoeungKhann, were summoned by the Preah Vihear provincial police chief to appearon April 2, 2014 at the local police station. On April 4, 2014, the policeissued a new summons that also included Ms. Seung Sang, another community leader. On thatday, the police adjourned the hearing without any further notice.

On April 5, 2014, Ponlok Khmer wrote a letter to Preah Vihear provincialauthority asking a copy of the official letter that Preah VihearProvincial Governor sent to the Ministryof Interior. However,the authorities have not answered yet.

At the time ofwriting, Ponlok Khmer was still operating. However, the Governor’s letterrepresents a serious threat and is a clear attempt to silence Ponlok Khmer,illustrating the culture of restrictions against human rights defenders and inparticular of land rights activists in the country.

Actionsrequested:

Pleasewrite to the Cambodian authorities and leaders of the CNRP urging them to:

i. Put an end to acts ofharassment against Ponlok Khmer, Mr. Lut Sang, Ms. Noun Mon, Ms. Roeung Khann and Ms. SeungSang and all human rights defenders inCambodia;

ii. Ensure in all circumstances thatthey are able to carry out their work without unjustified hindrance andfear of reprisal;

iii. Comply with all the provisions of the Declaration on Human RightsDefenders, adopted on December 9, 1998 by the United Nations General Assembly,in particular:

- Article1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually or in associationwith others, to promote the protection and realization of human rights andfundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”,

- andArticle 12.2 which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measuresto ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individuallyand in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, defacto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary actionas a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to inthe present Declaration.”

iv. Guarantee the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms inaccordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and otherinternational human rights instruments ratified by Cambodia.

Addresses:

· Mr. Hun Sen, Prime Minister, Officeof the Prime Minister, 41 Russian Federation Blvd, Phnom Penh, Kingdom ofCambodia. 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. Email: moi@interior.gov.kh

· Mr. Ang Vong Vathna, Minister ofJustice, Ministry of Justice, 240 Sothearos Blvd, Phnom Penh, Kingdom ofCambodia. Fax: +855 23 364119.

· Mr. Hor Nam Hong, Minister ofForeign Affairs, 161 Preah Sisowath Quay, Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia. Fax:+ 855 23 216144 / + 855 23 216939. Email: mfaic@mfa.gov.kh

· Ms. MariaFariello, HumanRights 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: HumanrightsKH@eeas.europa.eu/ Delegation-Cambodia@eeas.europa.eu

· Mr. Ke Sovann, Deputy PermanentRepresentative, Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Cambodia to the United Nationsin 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 todiplomatic representations of Cambodia in your respective countries.

***

Geneva-Paris, April 11, 2014

Kindlyinform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in yourreply.

TheObservatory, an OMCT and FIDH venture, is dedicated to the protection of HumanRights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

[1] http://www.ponlokkhmer.org/index.php/en/

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