KHM 004 / 0707 / OBS 075 - Assassination

09/07/2007
Urgent Appeal

he Observatory has been informed by the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC), a coalition of 22 NGOs operating in Cambodia, about the shooting to death of Mr. Seng Sarorn, a 44-year-old human rights defender, member of the « Culture and Environment Preservation Association » (CEPA) and leader of the community of Sre Kor village (Stung Treng province), involved in the defence of the rights of the communities.

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.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC), a coalition of 22 NGOs operating in Cambodia, about the shooting to death of Mr. Seng Sarorn, a 44-year-old human rights defender, member of the « Culture and Environment Preservation Association » (CEPA) and leader of the community of Sre Kor village (Stung Treng province), involved in the defence of the rights of the communities.

According to the information received, on July 4, 2007 at about 7.30pm, Mr. Seng Sarorn was reported to have been shot dead by an unknown person with an AK weapon while he was sitting with his wife in their home in Sre Kor village. Mr. Seng Sarorn was a human rights defender who actively encouraged people in his community to protest about forestry, fishery, and land-grabbing issues. Recently, Mr. Sarorn had also been involved in protests demanding that a company named Sal Sophea Pheanich gives the State’s forestry land back to the poor people of the community. In doing this, Mr. Sarorn had collected thumb prints from the people in the community who supported this claim, just 15 days before he was shot dead.

According to the same information, although the provincial Military Police arrived at the crime scene immediately after the killing, an improper investigation was conducted which resulted in the contamination of the crime scene. It has been reported that the Sal Sophea Peanich company would have interfered with the police investigation.

In March 2007, community land used by the indigenous people had been grabbed by four companies (Sopheak Nika Investment Agro-Industrial Co. Ltd, Sal Sophea Peanich Co. Ltd, Siv Guick Co. Ltd, and Phou Mardy Co. Ltd) which had been given government concessions to plant trees in the area. The dispute had been caused by unclear marking of the boundaries of the concessions.

The Observatory strongly condemns this killing which is symptomatic of the continuing human rights violations in Cambodia. The Observatory further points out that human rights defenders in Cambodia are particularly under attack for their efforts to help poor communities to protect their land and natural resources against land grabbing.

The Observatory further recalls that according to the United Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, "everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels (Article 1)" and that "the State shall conduct a prompt and impartial investigation or ensure that an inquiry takes place whenever there is reasonable ground to believe that a violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms has occurred in any territory under its jurisdiction" (Article 9.5).

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities in Cambodia urging them to:

i. Order a thorough and impartial investigation into the killing of Mr. Seng Sarorn, in order to identify those responsible, bring them to trial and apply the penal sanctions as provided by law;

ii. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of all human rights defenders in Cambodia;

iii. Put an end to any kind of harassment against all human rights defenders in Cambodia;

iv. Comply with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular the above-mentioned Articles 1 and 9.5;

v. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with international human rights 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 mission or embassy of Cambodia in your respective country.

***

Paris - Geneva, July 9, 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:
E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 20 11 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

Read more
appelobs