Cambodia: Continued arbitrary detention of Mr. Ny Chakrya

31/03/2017
Urgent Appeal

New information
KHM 001 / 0616 / OBS 047.4

Judicial harassment /
Arbitrary detention
Cambodia
March 31, 2017

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

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the continued arbitrary detention of Mr. Ny Chakrya, former Head of the Human Rights and Monitoring Section of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC), now Deputy Secretary-General of the National Election Committee (NEC), along with Messrs. Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan, Nay Vanda, and Ms. Lim Mony, all staff members of ADHOC. As of March 31, 2017, the five human rights defenders have spent 337 days in pre-trial detention.

According to the information received, on March 31, 2017, the Supreme Court upheld the November 28, 2016 decision by the Court of Appeal to extend the pre-trial detention of Mr. Ny Chakrya for up to another six months (See background information).

The Observatory strongly condemns the Supreme Court’s decision and the ongoing arbitrary detention of Messrs. Ny Chakrya, Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan, Nay Vanda, and Ms. Lim Mony. which only aims at punishing them for their legitimate human rights activities, The Observatory calls upon the Cambodian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release the five human rights defenders, in accordance with the Opinion adopted by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) [1].

The Observatory also calls upon the Cambodian authorities to put an end to any acts of harassment against all human rights defenders in Cambodia.

Background information:

On April 27 and 28, 2016, Messrs. Ny Sokha, Nay Vanda, Yi Soksan, Try Chhuon, and Ms. Lim Mony - as well as Mr. Ny Chakrya were brought in for questioning by the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU). Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) official Mr. Soen Sally, who was also summoned, did not appear before the ACU due to his immunity as a UN staff member.

On May 2, 2016, following five to six days of questioning by the ACU and then by the prosecutor, Messrs. Ny Sokha, Nay Vanda, Yi Soksan, and Ms. Lim Mony were charged with “bribery of a witness” under Article 548 of the Criminal Code and detained. In addition, Messrs. Ny Chakrya and Soen Sally were charged as “accomplices to bribery of a witness” (Articles 29 and 548 of the Criminal Code). Mr. Ny Chakrya was also detained.

The charges were related to a complaint signed by Ms. Khom Chandaraty (also known as Ms. Srey Mom), which was lodged following her questioning in March 2016 by anti-terrorism police and a prosecutor about an alleged affair with deputy opposition leader Mr. Khem Sokha, after ADHOC responded to Ms. Srey Mom’s request for legal and material assistance - a US$204 allowance to cover food and transport costs. This legitimate support, aimed at covering the basic expenses of a client, was construed by the ACU as bribery and corruption.

On June 13, 2016, the Court of Appeal in Phnom Penh denied bail to Messrs. Ny Chakrya, Ny Sokha, Nay Vanda, Yi Soksan, and Ms. Lim Mony. The defendants appealed the decision.

On September 22, 2016, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court sentenced Mr. Ny Chakrya to six months in prison and a six million Riel (about 1,414 Euros) fine in relation to another criminal case [2]. Mr. Ny Chakrya filed an appeal against his conviction. On December 14, 2016, the Court of Appeal upheld Mr. Ny Chakrya’s conviction.

On September 28, 2016, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court denied bail to Messrs. Ny Chakrya, Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan, Nay Vanda, and Ms. Lim Mony.

On October 27, 2016, as the period of pre-trial detention of Messrs. Ny Chakrya, Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan, Nay Vanda, and Ms. Lim Mony was about to expire, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court extended the detention of the five for up to another six months under the pretext that the defendants needed to remain available for any further interrogation and court procedures. The five defenders then appealed the decision to extend the pre-trial detention.

On November 28, 2016, the Court of Appeal upheld the extension of the pre-trial detention for another six months and refused to close the investigation. The Court argued that the issues of the extension of the detention and the continuation of the investigation were up to the discretion of the Investigating Judge of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court. The Observatory considers that this decision infringes upon Article 208 of the Criminal Procedure Code because there is no “clear and well-motivated warrant” to extend the detention, as stipulated in the article [3]. According to Cambodian criminal procedural law, the five defenders may spend 18 months in pre-trial detention.

On November 30, 2016, the Supreme Court upheld a previous decision adopted by the Court of Appeal on June 13, 2016 to refuse to release Messrs. Ny Chakrya, Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan, Nay Vanda, and Ms. Lim Mony on bail. The Court based its decision on Article 205 of the Criminal Procedure Code [4], therefore, upholding the continued applicability of both detention grounds, i.e. to maintain public order and prevent collusion with accomplices, victims, and witnesses. The Supreme Court’s verdict was preceded by two other Court of Appeals rulings. On November 11, 2016, the five defenders were denied bail for the second time by the Court of Appeal.

On February 27, 2017, Messrs. Ny Chakrya, Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan, Nay Vanda, and Ms. Lim Mony were summoned before the Supreme Court regarding their appeal on the decision to extend their detention order. However, due to the bailiff’s failure to send the summons for their transportation to court to the three prison facilities where the five are detained, none of them were brought to the Supreme Court for their hearing. As a result, the hearing was postponed. Moreover, the Supreme Court decided to sever the appeals of the five defenders. The hearing of the four ADHOC staff members was postponed to March 6, 2017, while the hearing of Mr. Ny Chakrya was scheduled for March 24, 2017, at 8am.

On March 6, 2017, the Supreme Court announced it would deliver its verdict on March 13 in the hearing of the four ADHOC staff members.

On March 13, 2017, the Supreme Court upheld the November 28, 2016 decision of the Court of Appeal to extend the pre-trial detention of the four ADHOC staff members for a further six months.

On March 24, the Supreme Court announced that it would deliver its verdict on March 31 in the hearing of Mr. Ny Chakrya.

Messrs. Ny Sokha, Nay Vanda, and Yi Soksan remain in detention in Prey Sar’s Correctional Centre 1 (‘CC1’), while Ms. Lim Mony is detained in Prey Sar’s Correctional Centre 2 (‘CC2’). Mr. Ny Chakrya is detained in Police Judiciaire (PJ) prison. All three jails are located in Phnom Penh. All of the detainees are being held alongside convicted criminals, contrary to Article 10(2)(a) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Cambodia is a State party, and Article 26 of Cambodia’s Law on Prisons.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of the Kingdom of Cambodia asking them to:

i. Immediately and unconditionally release Messrs. Ny Chakrya, Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan, Nay Vanda, and Ms. Lim Mony as their detention is arbitrary since it only aims at sanctioning their human rights activities;

ii. Guarantee in all circumstances their physical and psychological integrity, as well as that of all human rights defenders in Cambodia;

iii. Put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Messrs. Ny Chakrya, Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan, Nay Vanda, and Ms. Lim Mony, and against all human rights defenders in the country so that they are able to carry out their work without hindrance;

iv. Comply with all provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular with its Articles 1, 5(b), and 12.2;

v. Guarantee the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and other international human rights instruments signed or ratified by the Kingdom of Cambodia.

Addresses:

· Mr. Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the 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 and Deputy Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia. Fax: + 855 23 212708
· Mr. Ang Vong Vathna, Minister of Justice of the Kingdom of Cambodia. Fax: + 855 23 364 119
· Mr. Prak Sokhon, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Cambodia. Fax: + 855 23 216 144 / 855 23 216 141, Email: mfaic@mfa.gov.kh
· Mr. Sok An, Deputy Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Fax: +855 23 882 065, Email: leewood_phu@nida.gov.kh / info@pressocm.gov.kh
· Mr. Keo Remy, President of the Cambodian Human Rights Committee, Fax: +855 12 81 37 81 / +855 23 21 11 62 or +855 23 88 10 45 (c/o Council of Ministers)
· Mr. Bun Hun, President of the Cambodian Bar Association, Fax: +855 23 864 076, Email: info@bakc.org.kh
· Ambassador Mr. Ney Samol, Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Cambodia to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: + 41 22 788 77 74, Email: camemb.gva@mfa.gov.kh

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

***
Geneva-Paris, March 31, 2017

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 the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH. The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. OMCT and FIDH 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[at]fidh-omct.org
· Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
· Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80

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