Cambodia: #FreeThe5KH sentenced to 5 years’ imprisonment, sentence suspended

27/09/2018
Urgent Appeal

New information
KHM 001 / 0616 / OBS 047.6
Conviction /
Judicial harassment/
Cambodia
September 26, 2018

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 by reliable sources about the conviction of four senior staff members of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC), Mr.Yi Soksan, Senior Investigator, Mr. Nay Vanda, Head of Administration, Ms. Lim Mony, Head of Human Rights and Land Rights Section, and Mr. Ny Sokha, Head of the Human Rights Section, as well as ADHOC’s former Head of the Human Rights and Monitoring Section and current Deputy Secretary-General of the National Election Committee (NEC), Mr. Ny Chakrya.

According to the information received, on September 26, 2018, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court found Messrs. Yi Soksan, Nay Vanda, Ny Sokha, Ny Chakrya, and Ms. Lim Mony guilty of charges of “bribery of a witness” (Article 548 of the Criminal Code) and sentenced them to five years’ imprisonment. Mr. Ny Chakrya was convicted as an accomplice to the same crime under Articles 548 and 29 of the Criminal Code. The period the five human rights defenders spent in pre-trial detention - 427 days - was considered as time already served and the remainder of their sentence was suspended. This means that Messrs. Yi Soksan, Nay Vanda, Ny Sokha, Ny Chakrya, and Ms. Lim Mony will not return to prison.

The Observatory is concerned that during the one-day trial that took place on September 18, 2018, the plaintiff and key witness in the trial was not present in courtand statements were read out for only two out of seven other absent witnesses, which made cross-examination impossible. No credible evidence was presented by the prosecution, failing to meet the burden of proof necessary to sustain a conviction.

The Observatory further recalls that the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) declared the detention of Messrs. Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan, Nay Vanda, Ny Chakrya, and Ms. Lim Mony arbitrary (see background information below).

The Observatory condemns in the strongest terms the conviction and sentencing of Messrs. Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan, Nay Vanda, Ny Chakrya, and Ms. Lim Mony, which are acts of retaliation for their peaceful and legitimate human rights activities. The Observatory also urges the Cambodian authorities to end all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against all human rights defenders in the country.

Background information:
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 Ms. Srey Mom’s request for legal and material assistance and provided a US$204 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 Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) as bribery and corruption.

On April 27 and 28, 2016, Messrs. Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan, Nay Vanda, Ny Chakrya, and Ms. Lim Mony were brought in for questioning by the ACU.

On May 2, 2016, Messrs. Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan, Nay Vanda, and Ms. Lim Mony were charged with “bribery of a witness” under Article 548 of the Criminal Code and detained. In addition, Mr. Ny Chakrya was charged with being “accomplice to bribery of a witness” under Articles 29 and 548 of the Criminal Code. Mr. Ny Chakrya was also detained.

On June 13 and September 28, 2016 respectively, the Court of Appeals in Phnom Penh and then the Phnom Penh Municipal Court denied bail to the five defenders.

On October 27, 2016, 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.

On November 11, 2016, the five defenders were denied bail for the second time by the Court of Appeals.

On November 21, 2016, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) declared the detention of Messrs. Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan, Nay Vanda, Ny Chakrya, and Ms. Lim Mony arbitrary. The UN WGAD said their deprivation of liberty was in contravention of Articles 7, 9, 10, 11, and 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and Articles 9, 10, 14, 22, and 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Cambodia is a State party. The UN WGAD called on the Cambodian authorities to immediately release the five human rights defenders and award them appropriate compensation.

On November 28, 2016, the Court of Appeals upheld the extension of their pre-trial detention for another six months and refused to close the investigation.

On November 30, 2016, the Supreme Court upheld the Court of Appeals’ June 13, 2016 decision to refuse to release the five on bail.

On February 27, 2017, the Supreme Court decided to sever the appeal of Mr. Ny Chakrya from that of the other four defenders.

On March 13 and March 31, 2017 respectively, the Supreme Court upheld the Court of Appeals’ November 28, 2016 decision to extend the pre-trial detention of Messrs. Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan, Nay Vanda, Ny Chakrya, and Ms. Lim Mony for up to another six months.

On April 27, 2017, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court’s Investigating Judge Theam Chanpiseth extended the detention of Messrs. Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan, Nay Vanda, Ny Chakrya, and Ms. Lim Mony for another six-month period.

On June 29, 2017, Investigating Judge Theam Chanpiseth ordered the release on bail of Messrs. Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan, Nay Vanda, Ny Chakrya, andMs. Lim Mony. Between 7pm and 8.30pm, they were all released from Phnom Penh’s Prey Sar and Police Judiciaire prisons, where they had been 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.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities in Cambodia, urging them to:

i. Quash the conviction of Messrs. Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan, Nay Vanda, Ny Chakrya, and Ms. Lim Mony and provide them with adequate compensation in accordance with the decision of the UN WGAD;

ii. Put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level against all human rights defenders in the country so that they are able to carry out their work without hindrance;

iii. 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;

iv. 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, Email: moi@cambodia.gov.kh
· Mr. Ang Vong Vathna, Minister of Justice of the Kingdom of Cambodia. Fax: +855 23 364119, Email: moj@cambodia.gov.kh
· Mr. Prak Sokhon, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Cambodia.Fax: +855 23 216 144 / +855 23 216141, Email: mfaic@mfa.gov.kh/ mfaicasean@mfaic.gov.kh
· Mr. Keo Remy, President of the Cambodian Human Rights Committee. Fax: +855 12 813781 / +855 23 211162 / +855 23 881045 (c/o Council of Ministers)
· Mr. Suon Visal, President of the Cambodian Bar Association. Fax: +855 23 864076, 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 missions or embassies of Cambodia in your respective country as well as to the EU diplomatic missions or embassies in Cambodia.

***
Paris-Geneva, September 26, 2018

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 intervene 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 and fax FIDH + 33 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
· Tel and fax OMCT + 41 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

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