Latest Flash News & Articles

Flash News: ⁠⁠⁠Workers gather in capital to celebrate International Labour Day
Published on May 1, 2017audio available

This morning a mixed group of over 1500 trade unionists, workers, farmers, tuk tuk drivers and youths rallied in central Phnom Penh to celebrate International Labour Day and call for respect for workers’ rights, freedom of association, freedom of expression and the living wage.

The peaceful gathering was met with heavy deployments of para-police and riot police carrying batons and tear gas guns. The rally was obstructed by barricades and cordons of mixed forces for over two hours before eventually being permitted to march a short distance towards the National Assembly before again being blocked and prevented from marching the final 200 metres.

Representatives of the gathered groups delivered speeches in which they publicly stated their demands before submitting a petition to a representative of the National Assembly. Earlier in the rally, the authorities attempted to prevent speakers from using microphones. Many participants wore red headbands and emblazoned with the slogan “Our Rights” while others carried banners demanding respect for their rights.

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Flash News: Land Activists Arrested Preparing for Black Monday Gathering
Published on March 27, 2017audio available

Sor Sorn and Nat Sreynak, both from Borei Keila community, were arrested this morning as they prepared for a Black Monday campaign gathering in front of their houses. Both were detained in 7 Makara police station until 7:15PM after nearly 11 hours in detention.

The two women, who were both wearing black t-shirts, were singled out and arrested by police and para-police at Borei Keila community at about 8.45 as they prepared for a gathering to call for the release of incarcerated human rights defenders, including Boeung Kak Lake community representative Tep Vanny who was arrested during another Black Monday event on 15 August 2016. Since the campaign began in May last year, there have been at least 38 arbitrary arrests of Black Monday participants, who have mostly been detained for hours before being released without charge. Today marked Sor Sorn's fifth arrest, and Nat Sreynak's second arrest, for participating in a peaceful Black Monday gathering.

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Flash News: Four Youths Detained as Documentary Screening Shut Down
Published on March 12, 2017audio available

Four youths were arrested and detained for three hours today after police and para-police shut down a private screening of an Al Jazeera documentary on the murder of political analyst Kem Ley.

The documentary screening was due to be held in the private office of the Khmer Student Intelligent League Association (KSILA), an organisation of youth activists and analysts. There were about 15 people waiting to watch the documentary when about 50 armed police and para-police surrounded the office and arrested the four youths. Moung Sony, Soung Neakpoan, Vorn Channout and Heng Samnang - all members of KSILA - were released at about 6pm, only after signing an agreement promising not to screen the film again without permission from authorities.

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Flash News: Cambodian Student Leader Released After Serving Full Sentence
Published on February 22, 2017audio available

This morning, political prisoner Kong Raya was released from CC1 after serving his full 18 month prison sentence for “incitement to commit a felony” under Articles 494 and 495 of Cambodia’s criminal code.

The 26 year old former President of the Cambodian Student Network was initially arrested in August 2015 on the basis of a Facebook post calling for “colour revolution” – a term the government commonly uses to characterise peaceful movements as acts of violent revolt. His arrest came less than a month after Prime Minister Hun Sen called on police and armed forces to take action over any group or individual attempting a “colour revolution”.

He was convicted and sentenced on 15 March 2016 after months of pre-trial detention, a verdict subsequently upheld by the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court. His conviction was the first in a spate of crackdowns on online expression.

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Flash News: Amendments to Law on Political Parties passed in boycotted National Assembly session
Published on February 20, 2017audio available

Today, the ruling-party members of the National Assembly approved amendments to the Law on Political Parties in a session boycotted by the opposition.

A draft of the law that became publicly available earlier this month contained articles creating unprecedented powers for the Supreme Court to dissolve political parties and ban political leaders for five years, at the request of the Ministry of Interior, on vague and ill-defined grounds such as potential harm to “national unity”. The process has no hearing and explicitly forbids appeal.

The law would allow the Ministry of Interior to suspend political parties for a time period with no maximum duration. The law would also ban individuals with any conviction, spent or unspent, carrying a non-suspended custodial sentence from holding official roles within political parties.

The law, which still requires approval by the Senate, is designated “urgent” meaning it will be immediately implemented once it has been signed by the King.

Flash News: Political Analyst Kim Sok Charged, Sent to Pre-Trial Detention
Published on February 17, 2017audio available

Political analyst Kim Sok was charged with incitement and defamation and brought to CC1 prison this afternoon in relation to a five-day-old complaint brought against him by Prime Minister Hun Sen.

He was charged and sent to pre-trial detention by Phnom Penh investigating judge Rouss Phiset following hours of questioning by prosecutor Seang Sok. The case is the first of two lawsuits the Prime Minister brought against Kim Sok in relation to comments made by the political analyst about the murder of Kem Ley, who was killed last July. The second lawsuit - also alleging defamation and incitement - was lodged after Kim Sok took to the radio to explain his earlier comments. A conviction for incitement carries a jail sentence of six months to two years. The Prime Minister has also asked for compensation in both complaints, totalling USD$502,500.

A crowd of about 250 people gathered outside Phnom Penh Municipal Court in support of Kim Sok this morning.

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Flash News: Land Activists Face Appeal Hearing for 2011 Protest
Published on February 15, 2017audio available

Boeung Kak Lake representatives Tep Vanny, Bo Chhorvy, Kong Chantha and Heng Mom faced a hearing this morning to appeal convictions handed down to them last September by Phnom Penh Municipal Court in relation to a 2011 protest. Appeal Court judge Nhoung Thol will announce the verdict on 27 February. Neither plaintiff was present at the hearing, preventing cross-examination, and evidence presented was limited.

In their first trial, all four women were found guilty of obstruction of a public official with aggravating circumstances and insult and sentenced to six months' imprisonment. Since then, Tep Vanny has remained in pre-trial detention in CC2 prison – where she has now been for half a year – for separate charges relating to a protest held by Boeung Kak Lake community in 2013 in front of the Prime Minister's house. Bo Chhorvy, Kong Chantha and Heng Mom were not arrested as the sentences will not be enforced until all appeals are exhausted. None of the evidence presented at the original trial or the appeal hearing sufficiently proved the guilt of the four women.

About 40 community members and supporters from land communities and civil society groups gathered outside the court during today's hearing.

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Flash News: Hundreds Gather in Support of Summonsed Human Rights Defenders
Published on February 8, 2017audio available

About 200 people gathered outside Phnom Penh Municipal Court this afternoon to support human rights defenders Chan Puthisak and Am Sam Ath as they were questioned by a prosecutor in relation to violence which occurred last October when para-police broke up a peaceful World Habitat Day march.

LICADHO Monitoring Manager Am Sam Ath and Boeung Kak Lake community representative Chan Puthisak were both questioned for about an hour and a half as people from local communities and other grassroots groups, NGOs and media gathered outside the court. The two human rights defenders had been summonsed as suspects before prosecutor Ngin Pich in relation to the violence on World Habitat Day, which had left both men badly injured by para-police.

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Flash News: Judge Indefinitely Suspends Trial of Land Activist Tep Vanny
Published on February 3, 2017audio available

The trial of land activist Tep Vanny was suspended just 45 minutes after it began this afternoon by judge Long Kes Phearum, who cited his own sickness and a chaotic situation for the adjournment. Tep Vanny requested for the trial to proceed.

Vanny has been in pre-trial detention since last August on charges of intentional violence with aggravating circumstances, relating to a protest held by Boeung Kak Lake community in 2013 in front of the Prime Minister's house. About 80 supporters, including community members, NGOs and monks, gathered outside the courtroom for her trial this afternoon. This case is just one of three historic cases which were re-activated in August 2016 while Vanny was awaiting trial on separate charges relating to a Black Monday protest.

As of today, she has been detained for 172 days. There is no date set for the trial resumption.

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Flash News: Land Activist Tep Vanny Denied Bail
Published on January 25, 2017audio available

Land activist Tep Vanny has been denied bail following a Supreme Court hearing conducted by judge Kim Sathavy last week.

Vanny has been in pre-trial detention since last August on charges of intentional violence with aggravating circumstances, relating to a protest held by Boeung Kak Lake community in 2013 in front of the Prime Minister's house. As of today, she has been detained for 163 days. Her trial is due to be held on 3 February. 

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Flash News: Communities Gather for Tep Vanny’s Supreme Court Bail Hearing
Published on January 18, 2017audio available

Land activist Tep Vanny faced a 45-minute Supreme Court bail hearing this morning as community members from across Phnom Penh gathered outside in support. Supreme Court judge Kim Sathavy will announce the bail ruling on 25 January.

Vanny has been in pre-trial detention since last August on charges of intentional violence with aggravating circumstances, relating to a protest held by Boeung Kak Lake community in 2013 in front of the Prime Minister's house. This case is just one of three historic cases which were re-activated in August 2016 while Vanny was awaiting trial on separate charges relating to a Black Monday protest.

As of today, she has been detained for 156 days.

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Flash News: CNRP Official Released on Bail
Published on January 14, 2017audio available

This morning, Din Puthy, CNRP's deputy chief of operations in Poipet, was released on bail from Banteay Meanchey prison.

He was charged with intentional violence with aggravating circumstances on December 24, and had been imprisoned since then. The charges stem from accusations of hitting immigration police officer Chhean Pisith with his car, despite video footage and witness accounts casting serious doubt on the claims. Appeals judge Nuon Ratana ruled for his release on bail following a closed hearing in Phnom Penh yesterday.

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Flash News: Celebrating International Human Rights Day Across Cambodia
Published on December 10, 2016audio available

Thousands of people gathered today to celebrate International Human Rights Day across Cambodia after a week-long series of celebrations across the country.

In Phnom Penh, groups who had planned to gather outside the Council for the Development of Cambodia were forced from the area by para-police and anti-demonstration police. After attempts to gather elsewhere were met with a similar show of force, the group gathered at Freedom Park, where despite a sustained heavy police presence – with about 300 anti-demonstration police positioned around the park – a diverse group of about 1,000 people from unions, communities, other grassroots groups and NGOs joined to celebrate.

Another 12 celebrations took place this morning in eleven different provinces, encompassing marches and processions and public forums. In Kampot, one planned celebration was shut down by district authorities who claimed the group required permission to hold their event.

Altogether, International Human Rights Day celebrations organised by Friends of December 10th over the last week have seen about 11,000 people across Cambodia come together to celebrate human rights and speak out against injustice.

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Flash News: International Human Rights Day Event Shut Down by Kampot Authorities
Published on December 9, 2016audio available

An International Human Rights Day celebration in Kampot province was shut down this afternoon by provincial authorities, who also threatened to halt a further two events planned for tomorrow.

About 80 community members attempted to gather this afternoon to discuss human rights in a public forum in Svay Ang, in Kampot. A group of local authorities, led by a Chhouk district official, ordered the villagers to halt the forum and dismantle the meeting tent after Kampot’s governor claimed the group required permission to hold their event. Authorities also said that another two celebrations planned for tomorrow in Kampot would not be allowed.

Thousands of Cambodians have gathered and marched to celebrate International Human Rights Day throughout Cambodia over the past week, organised by Friends of December 10th. Celebrations will culminate tomorrow, with 14 events planned in Phnom Penh and various provinces.

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Flash News: Opposition Commune Council Chief Pardoned, Released
Published on December 8, 2016audio available

This morning, elected opposition commune council chief Seang Chet was released from prison after yesterday receiving a royal pardon from King Sihamoni. The pardon came 48 hours after his conviction by the Phnom Penh court of first instance and means he will no longer have to serve a five year sentence for ”bribery of a witness” in a politically-motivated case led by the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU). He had already spent 228 days in detention.

The release follows an apparent easing of political tensions between the ruling and opposition party leaders after a similar pardon was granted to acting opposition leader Kem Sokha on 2 December after spending over six months at the opposition’s headquarters under defacto house-arrest.

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