KHM 003 / 0607 / OBS 068 - Death threats / Harassment

06/08/2007
Urgent Appeal

The Observatory has been informed by the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC) about the anonymous death threats made against Mr. Lem Piseth, a journalist at Radio Free Asia, after he reported on deforestation in Kompong Thom province.

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

Brief description of the situation:

According to the information received, on June 16, 2007, Mr. Lem Piseth was on his way to Kampong Seu, in southern Cambodia, when he received an anonymous call on his cell phone. A man’s voice called him "insolent" and asked him if he "wanted to die". The man explained that he was insulting the reporter "because of the story about the forest", and that there would not be "enough land to bury [him] in". Mr. Piseth tried to call the number back, but could only reach a call centre.

These threats follow the publication by Mr. Piseth of four articles on the damage resulting from forest destructions in Kompong Thom province. Following the publication of these articles, Mr. Piseth was also followed by the police and the military, and asked to leave the hotel room he was staying in by the owners, without any explanation.

It is worth mentioning that these events take place after the publication of a report on illegal forest destruction in Cambodia, on June 1, 2007, by the NGO Global Witness. On June 3, 2007, this report was banned by the Cambodian authorities and on June 8, 2007, the Cambodian Ministry of Information Mr. Khieu Kanharith further declared that "newspapers [could] refer to [the report] but not reproduce it" (See Urgent Appeal of the Observatory KHM 002/0607/OBS 064, issued on June 7, 2007)". Yet, Radio Free Asia, like several other media, continued to release news about the report after June 8, 2007, and was ordered to cease any radio broadcasting on this issue by a police official. Mr. Lem Piseth also quoted the report in a radio broadcast.

As a consequence of the threats received, Mr. Lem Piseth was obliged to flee abroad.

The Observatory expresses its deep concern about these threats against Mr. Lem Piseth, as well as against human rights defenders and civil society in general, as well as the restrictions on their work and the exercise of freedom of expression in Cambodia.

Actions required:

Please write to the authorities of Cambodia urging them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Lem Piseth;

ii. Put an end to any kind of act of harassment and threats against Mr. Lem Piseth as well as against all human rights defenders in the country;

iii. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially its article 1, which states that "everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels", and article 12.2, which states that "the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration";

iv. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Cambodia.

Addresses :

· Mr. Samdech Hun Sen, Prime Minister, Office of the Prime Minister, Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia, Fax : +00 855 23 36 06 66 / 855 23 88 06 24 (c/o Council of Ministers), Email: leewood_phu@nida.gov.kh

· Mr. Sok An, Deputy Prime Minister, 41, Russian Federation Boulevard, Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia. Tel : +00 855 12 80 44 42 ; Fax : +00 855 23 88 06 24 ; e-mail : leewood_phu@nida.gov.kh
Mr. Sar Kheng, Deputy Prime Minister and Co-Minister of Interior, Ministry of Interior, 275 Norodom Blvd, Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia. Fax : +00 855 23 72 60 52

· Mr. Hor Nam Hong, Minister of Foreign Affairs, 161 Preah Sisowath Quay, Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia. Fax: +00 855 23 21 61 44 / +00 855 23 21 69 39

· Mr. Om Yentieng, President of the Cambodian Human Rights Committee, Office of the Prime Minister, Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia. Fax: +00 855 12 81 37 81 / +00 855 23 21 11 62 or +855 23 88 10 45 (c/o Council of Ministers)

· Ambassador Mr. Vun Chheang, Permanent Mission of Cambodia to the United Nations in Geneva, Chemin de Taverney 3, Case postale 213, 1218 Grand-Saconnex, Switzerland ; Fax: 00 41 22 788 77 74

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

***

Geneva - Paris, June 22, 2007

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

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

The Observatory was the winner of the 1998 Human Rights Prize of the French Republic.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line: Email : Appeals@fidh-omct.org Tel et fax FIDH : + 33 1 43 55 55 05 / 33 1 43 55 18 80 Tel et fax OMCT : +41 22 809 49 39 / 41 22 809 49 29

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