KHM 005 / 0707 / OBS 086 - Attack

06/08/2007
Urgent Appeal

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources of the attack upon the home of Mr. Sat Savuth, a well-known Cambodian human rights campaigner advocating land and forestry rights in Anlong Veng district’s Phat commune.

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:

According to the information received, on July 23, 2007, about 11:30 p.m., Mr. Savuth witnessed four assailants throw a home-made grenade at the front door of his home, in Oddar Meanchey province. Fortunately, Mr. Savuth and his family were not injured.

Mr. Savuth has previously been the target of attacks relating to his denunciations of illegal logging. In 2005, he moved to Anlong province on the advice of human rights organisations for fear of his life after having been shot at by an unidentified gunman angered by his previous criticisms of government corruption in Tomring commune, Kampong Thom province. Mr. Savuth’s work on illegal logging in the Tomring commune appeared more recently in the report on Cambodia by environmental group Global Witness, entitled Cambodia’s Family Trees. This report has clearly upset the Cambodian Government, which has banned the publication and the diffusion of its contents in local print media1.

Following these attacks against Mr. Savuth, local authorities have pledged to properly investigate this attack. However, as quoted in the Cambodia Daily on July 23, 2007, the Governor of Anlong Veng province would have already dismissed the idea that the attack was “politically motivated”.

In view of the previous attempt to kill Mr. Savuth, the Observatory fears that the purpose of this recent attack was to kill him. This attack, which comes just weeks after the murder of another forestry and fisheries activist Mr. Seng Sarom, killed on July 4, 20072, confirms that human rights defenders in Cambodia are particularly at risk due to their efforts to help local communities protect their land and natural resources.

The Observatory further recalls that according to the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the United Nations 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 realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels” (Article 1) and 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” (Article 12.2).

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities in Cambodia urging them to:

i.Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Sat Savuth;

ii.Order a thorough and impartial investigation into the attack upon Mr. Sat Savuth, in order to identify those responsible, bring them to trial and apply the penal sanctions as provided by law;

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

iv.Comply with the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular the above-mentioned Articles 1 and 12(2);

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 the 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 31, 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

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