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.
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the ongoing judicial harassment and arbitrary detention of Mr. Ny Chakrya, former Head of the Human Rights and Monitoring Section of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC) and now Deputy Secretary-General of the National Election Committee (NEC), as well as of four ADHOC staff members, Messrs. Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan, Nay Vanda, and Ms. Lim Mony.
According to the information received, on October 27, 2016, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court denied bail to Messrs. Ny Chakrya, Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan, Nay Vanda, and Ms. Lim Mony and extended their pre-trial detention for up to six more months on the pretext that the five defendants needed to remain at hand for any further interrogation and court procedures.
The Observatory considers that the court’s refusal to release the five detained human rights defenders on bail is a significant obstacle to the exercise of their basic rights, including the fundamental right to liberty and the right to a fair trial.
The Observatory recalls that the five human rights defenders have been arbitrarily detained since May 2, 2016, on charges of “bribery of a witness” (Article 548 of the Criminal Code) for Messrs. Ny Sokha, Nay Vanda, Yi Soksan and Ms. Lim Mony, and being an “accomplice to bribery of a witness” (Articles 29 and 548 of the Criminal Code) for Mr. Ny Chakrya, for providing legal and material assistance to a client. If convicted, the five could face from five to ten years in prison.
The Observatory further recalls that on September 22, 2016, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court sentenced Mr. Ny Chakrya to six months in prison and a six-million-Riel (about 1,310 Euros) fine in relation to another criminal case . Mr. Ny Chakrya filed an appeal against his conviction.
The Observatory strongly condemns the ongoing arbitrary detention of Messrs. Ny Chakrya, Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan, Nay Vanda, and Ms. Lim Mony, which only aims at sanctioning their legitimate human rights activities, and calls upon the Cambodian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release the five human rights defenders.
Until their unconditional release, the Observatory further urges the Cambodian authorities to ensure that all judicial proceedings against them are carried out in full compliance with their right to a fair trial, as protected under international law.
On April 27 and 28, 2016, 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 were brought in 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 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 Appeals in Phnom Penh denied bail to Messrs. Ny Chakrya, Ny Sokha, Nay Vanda, Yi Soksan, and Ms. Lim Mony.
Messrs. Ny Sokha, Nay Vanda, and Yi Soksan remain detained in Prey Sar’s Correctional Center 1 (‘CC1’), while Ms. Lim Mony is detained in Prey Sar’s Correctional Center 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, and Article 26 of Cambodia’s Law on Prisons.
Please write to the authorities of the Kingdom of Cambodia asking them to:
i. 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 all human rights defenders in the country so that they are able to carry out their work without hindrance;
ii. Guarantee in all circumstances their physical and psychological integrity as well as of all human rights defenders in Cambodia;
iii. 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;
iv. Comply with all the 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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr. Sok An, Deputy Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Fax: +855 23 882 065, Email: email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
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: email@example.com
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Cambodia in your respective countries.