Cambodia: Ny Sokha, Nay Vanda, Yi Soksan, Lim Mony and Ny Chakrya denied bail

14/06/2016
Urgent Appeal

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the continuous judicial harassment and arbitrary detention of Messrs. Ny Sokha, Nay Vanda, Yi Soksan, and Ms. Lim Mony, four staff members of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC), as well as former ADHOC staffer, Mr. Ny Chakrya, Deputy Secretary General of the National Election Committee (NEC) and former Head of ADHOC’s human rights section.

URGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY

New information
KHM 001 / 0616/ OBS 047
Judicial harassment /
Arbitrary detention / Obstacles
to freedom of peaceful assembly
Cambodia
June 14, 2016

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint 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:

According to the information received, on June 13, 2016, in an hearing presided by Judge Khun Leang Meng, Cambodia’s Court of Appeals in Phnom Penh denied bail to Messrs. Ny Sokha, Nay Vanda, Yi Soksan, Ny Chakrya and Ms. Lim Mony.

Messrs. Ny Sokha, Nay Vanda, Yi Soksan, Ny Chakrya and Ms. Lim Mony have been arbitrarily detained since May 2, 2016, under bribery charges for providing legal and material assistance to a client (see background information). If convicted, the five human rights defenders face from five to ten years’ imprisonment.

Moreover, police interrupted the peaceful protests of about 40 activists who had gathered outside the Court of Appeals in order to call for the release of the five defenders. Ms. Sor Sorn, an activist from Borei Keila community, was arrested outside the court and briefly detained at Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh police station.

The Observatory strongly condemns the ongoing arbitrary detention of Messrs. Ny Sokha, Nay Vanda, Yi Soksan, Ny Chakrya, and Ms. Lim Mony, which only aims at sanctioning their legitimate human rights activities, and calls upon the Cambodian to immediately and unconditionally release them and drop all charges against them.

Background information[1]:

On April 27 and 28, 2016, the five staff members of ADHOC - Mr. Ny Sokha (Head of the Human Rights Section), Mr. Nay Vanda (Deputy Head of the Human Rights Section), Mr. Yi Soksan (Senior Investigator of the Land and Natural Resources Section), Mr. Try Chhuon (lawyer) and Ms. Lim Mony (Senior Investigator of the Women’s Rights Section) - as well as Mr. Ny Chakrya (Deputy Secretary General of the NEC and former Head of ADHOC’s human rights section) were brought for questioning by the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU). UNOHCHR official 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 firstly 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 CC1 and CC2 prisons in Phnom Penh. In addition, Messrs. Ny Chakrya and Soen Sally were charged as “accomplices to bribery of a witness” (Criminal Code Articles 29 & 548). Mr. Ny Chakrya was detained in Police Judiciare (PJ) prison.

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

On May 9, 2016, two human rights workers, four land rights activists and two international rights workers were arrested in Phnom Penh as they attempted to make their way to a demonstration organised to denounce the arbitrary detention of the five defenders. All were released in the evening of the same day[2].

Similarly, on May 16 and June 6, 2016 respectively, five and seven women activists were briefly arrested on the occasion of “Black Monday” protests to call for the release of the five defenders. They were all released later in the day, after they signed a pledge to stay out of future Black Monday protests.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Cambodia asking them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Messrs. Ny Sokha, Nay Vanda, Yi Soksan, Ny Chakrya, and Ms. Lim Mony as well as of all human rights defenders in Cambodia;

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

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

iv. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular with its Articles 1, 5(a), 12.1 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, Office of the Prime Minister, 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, Kingdom of Cambodia. Fax: + 855 23 212708
· Mr. Ang Vong Vathna, Minister of Justice, Ministry of Justice, Kingdom of Cambodia. Fax: + 855 23 364 119
· Mr. Prak Sokhon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, 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, Office of the Prime Minister, Kingdom of Cambodia, 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, June 14, 2016

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

The Observatory, an OMCT and FIDH venture, is dedicated to the protection of human rights defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

— -

[1] See Joint Public Statement, May 2, 2016.

[2] For more information, see Observatory Press Release, May 9, 2016.

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