Obstacles to freedom of expression / Harassment - KHM 001 / 0407 / OBS 029

Urgent Appeal

The Observatory has been informed by the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC) of the threat made by the Royal Government of Cambodia to expel the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI), a US-based international organisation, from the country or to revoke staff visas.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), expresses its deepest concern regarding the following situation in Cambodia.

Brief description of the situation:

The OSJI is actively engaged in the monitoring of the Khmers Rouge’s trials by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC). According to the information received, they publicised last February allegations of financial embezzlement at the Khmers Rouge tribunal and called for a thorough investigation into these allegations.

The expulsion of the OSJI from Cambodia would clearly contravene the principles guaranteed by the 2003 Agreement between the United Nations and the Royal Government of Cambodia concerning the prosecution under Cambodian law of crimes committed during the period of democratic Kampuchea, especially its Article 12 (2), which states that “in the interest of securing a fair and public haring and credibility of the procedure, it is understood that representatives of [...] national and international non-governmental organizations will at all times have access to the proceedings before the Extraordinary Chambers”.

Such threats against human rights defenders are also in flagrant violation of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, which states in its article 9.3 (b) that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, inter alia [...] to attend public hearings, proceedings and trials so as to form an opinion on their compliance with national law and applicable international obligations and commitments”.

The ouster of this organisation, in response to its monitoring activities, could be detrimental to the procedure and could lead to the lack of credibility of the Court. The Observatory is deeply concerned about these threats which also reveal the poor state of freedom of expression in this country.

Action requested:

Please write to the Cambodian authorities and ask them to:

i. Put an immediate end to these threats of expelling and allow the OSJI’s representatives to carry out their monitoring work without hindrance;

ii. Put an end to all acts of harassment against all human rights defenders in Cambodia;

iii. Conform with the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular its article 1 which provides that “every person has the right, individually or collectively, to promote the protection and fulfilment of human rights and fundamental liberties at the national and international levels”, as well as its article 8.2, which states that everyone has the right, “individually and in association with others, to submit to governmental bodies and agencies and organisations concerned with public affairs criticism and proposals for improving their functioning and to draw attention to any aspect of their work that may hinder or impede the promotion, protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms”, and its above mentioned article 9.3 (b);

iv. Promote and ensure freedom of expression in Cambodia with respect to the ECCC and more generally ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Cambodia.


* Mr. Hun Sen, Prime Minister, Office of the Prime Minister, Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia, Fax: +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, Fax: + 855 23 88 06 24, Email: 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: + 855 23 72 60 52
* Mr. Hor Nam Hong, Minister of Foreign Affairs, 161 Preah Sisowath Quay, cnr rue 204, Phnom Penh Kingdom of Cambodia, Fax: + 855 23 21 61 44 / + 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: +855 12 81 37 81 / +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: + 41 22 788 77 74

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


Geneva-Paris, April 2, 2007

Kindly inform the Observatory of any action undertaken quoting the code number 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.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
Tel and fax FIDH: +33 (0) 1 43 55 20 11 / 43 55 18 80
Tel and fax OMCT: (+ 41 22) 809 49 39 / 809 49 29
Email: Appeals@fidh-omct.org

Read more