Latest Flash News & ArticlesFlash News: CNRP Leader Sam Rainsy Tried and Convicted in Absentia
Published on July 28, 2016
This morning, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court heard a defamation case involving self-exiled leader of the CNRP Sam Rainsy, and National Assembly President, Heng Samrin.
The case revolved around a Facebook post made by Rainsy on November 17, 2015, in which he shared a video of the late King Sihanouk making comments about the actions of the 1980s Samrin-led regime. The prosecutor, Vong Bun Visoth, and Samrin’s lawyer, Ky Tech, both argued that the caption Rainsy had written to accompany the video was exaggerated, defamatory and misleading. Neither the defendant nor his lawyers were present for the trial.
After 10 minutes of deliberation, judge Ros Piseth returned with a lengthy written judgment, finding Rainsy guilty of defamation under article 305 of the Criminal Code. Rainsy was ordered to pay a 10 million riel (about $2,500) fine and 150 million riel (about $37,500) in compensation to Heng Samrin.
Rainsy has been living abroad since late last year, facing imprisonment if he returns, after a conviction previously believed to have been spent was reactivated following a complaint by the then-serving Foreign Minister Hor Namhong’s lawyer.
Published on July 20, 2016
This morning, the Phnom Penh Appeal Court upheld CNRP activist Ouk Pich Samnang’s conviction, in a case relating to an October 2014 protest in which he had been injured by Daun Penh district security guards.
Samnang had been tried and convicted in September 2015 of intentional violence and obstructing authorities and sentenced to two years in prison, in a decision largely decried due to lack of evidence and contradictory witness testimony.
During the appeal hearing, held on June 30, 2016, Samnang repeatedly challenged the legitimacy of his conviction, denied having committed any violence and expressed skepticism that his appeal would be allowed. Witness testimony was once again contradictory and limited evidence was presented to justify the trial court’s decision.
Ouk Pich Samnang has been detained for exactly one year today, alongside 17 other opposition members and activists detained within the last year.
Published on July 4, 2016
This morning, the ninth Black Monday was marked around Phnom Penh with gatherings by land activists, students and public shows of solidarity in the city’s biggest malls.
In support of five imprisoned human rights defenders, who were thrown into prison nine weeks ago today, groups of shoppers marked Black Monday in malls around the city, wearing black in solidarity with the five rights defenders. At the same time, a morning gathering in Boeung Kak Lake community in support of Black Monday was broken up by police and Daun Penh para-police, who violently confiscated banners and materials. A group of activists from Borei Keila demonstrated outside Phnom Penh Municipality, calling for the release of the five rights defenders. Students at Royal University Phnom Penh also joined the campaign on campus.
Today’s Phnom Penh-wide Black Monday celebrations come nine weeks after four human rights defenders from NGO ADHOC and one election official were detained on spurious charges of bribery.
Published on July 1, 2016
Three environmental activists from NGO Mother Nature were released this afternoon after being convicted and sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment this morning. Their 10 months and 15 days' pre-trial detention was considered time-served, with the rest of the sentence suspended.
Try Sovikea, 26; Sun Mala, 24; and Sim Samnang, 29, were tried over two days earlier this week by Koh Kong provincial court. This morning, they were convicted by Judge Min Meakra with threatening to cause destruction, defacement or damage followed by an order under Articles 28 and 424 of the Criminal Code – charges brought after the three were arrested last year amid an ongoing campaign to end alleged illegal sand dredging in Koh Kong. Throughout the trial, little to no evidence of their guilt was presented.
The three have been held in pre-trial detention since their arrest in August 2015 – amounting to 11 days longer than the legal pre-trial detention limit. In addition to their prison sentence, the three men were also ordered to pay a two million riel (about $500) fine and 100 million riel (about $25,000) compensation payment.
Published on June 28, 2016
The two-day trial of three activists from environmental NGO Mother Nature, who have been imprisoned since August 2015, ended today at Koh Kong provincial court as about 80 supporters gathered outside.
The three – Try Sovikea, San Mala and Sim Samnang – were tried by Judge Min Meakra under Article 424 of the Criminal Code with threatening to cause destruction, defacement or damage followed by an order. The charges were brought after the three were arrested in August 2015 amid an ongoing campaign to end alleged illegal sand dredging in Koh Kong. Throughout the trial, limited evidence of guilt was presented.
The verdict will be announced on 1 July.
Published on June 13, 2016
This morning, ADHOC staffers Lim Mony, Ny Sokha, Nay Vanda and Yi Soksan, and election official Ny Chakrya, were denied bail in an Appeal Court hearing conducted by judge Khun Leang Meng.
The five human rights defenders were imprisoned under spurious bribery charges on 2 May amid national and international outcry. If convicted, they could be sentenced to between five and ten years’ imprisonment.
About 40 supporters gathered outside the Appeal Court for the hearing. Their banners were confiscated by police, and Sor Sorn, an activist from Borei Keila community, was arrested outside the court and taken to Daun Penh police station. Police have indicated she will be released this evening.
Published on June 13, 2016
This morning, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court sentenced three CNRP youth members to seven years’ imprisonment for their participation in the July 15, 2014 protest in Freedom Park.
The three men – Yea Thong, Roeun Chetra and Yun Kimhour – were found guilty of participation in an insurrectionary movement under Articles 456 and 457 of the Cambodian Criminal Code. Throughout the trial, conducted by judge Mong Mony Sophea, the defence lawyers were blocked from questioning key witnesses and the prosecution produced limited evidence to substantiate their claims.
All three men have been detained since August 2015. They join 11 other CNRP supporters and officials similarly convicted under insurrection charges and sentenced to between seven and 20 years’ imprisonment in relation to the same protest in July 2015.
Published on June 8, 2016
Prey Speu “Social Affairs” center has made the headlines again recently following the decision by the Phnom Penh Municipality to keep the detention facility open despite Prime Minister Hun Sen’s support for its closure (Cambodia Daily, “Officials Keep Prey Speu Open After PM’s Rebuke”, June 3, 2016).
Published on May 27, 2016
This morning, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court convicted three members of the Prime Minister’s Bodyguard Unit with the brutal beating of two CNRP MPs, Nhay Chamroeun and Kong Sophea, outside the gates of the National Assembly during an anti-Kem Sokha protest on October 26 last year.
The three soldiers - Mao Hoeung, Sot Vanny and Chhay Sarith - were sentenced to four years’ imprisonment with three years suspended for acts of intentional violence with aggravating circumstances under Article 218 of the Cambodian Criminal Code. The judge cited the confession of the three and alleged provocation by the victims as mitigating circumstances with regard to sentencing. Property damage charges under Article 411 were dropped due to lack of evidence.
During the trial, the court repeatedly closed down any questioning on the broader involvement of the Prime Minister’s Bodyguard Unit in both the October 26 protest, and the subsequent beatings.
Published on May 16, 2016
This morning, five land community representatives were arrested as people across and outside Cambodia marked the second “Black Monday Campaign” event to call for the release of five human rights defenders detained two weeks ago.
Hundreds of people in Cambodia and abroad are participating in the second "Black Monday Campaign” event, sharing images of themselves wearing black and of the five detained human rights defenders on social media. Boeung Kak Lake community also held an event in their community this morning to call for the release of the five. The social media campaign comes days after calls by Prime Minister Hun Sen to ban colour-coordinated demonstrations following the first “Black Monday" event last week, in which participants dressed in black to call for the release of five human rights defenders. During last week’s events eight human rights workers and activists were detained for wearing black clothes as they attempted to join a planned demonstration to call for the release of the five human rights defenders.
The second “Black Monday Campaign” event has already resulted in further detentions. At about 9am, five women from Thmor Kol, Borei Keila and the former Boeung Kak Lake communities, all wearing black, were arrested outside Chenla theatre in Phnom Penh. The five women - Chray Nim, Im Srey Touch, Yin Shrin, Pouk Sopin and Ngov Nary - are currently detained in Toul Kork district police office.
Update: All five women detained this morning were released from Toul Kork district police office by 10pm.
Published on May 9, 2016
This morning, two senior human rights workers and four land rights activists were arrested as they attempted to make their way to a demonstration that was planned to take place outside Prey Sar’s CC1 and CC2 prisons.
The demonstration was the first “Black Monday” event in which participants dressed in black to call for the release of five human rights defenders detained a week ago following their arrest by the Anti-Corruption Unit. Their detention has been widely criticised both inside and outside Cambodia as an attack against civil society with multiple organisations calling for their release.
Police road blocks on the way to Prey Sar and at Boueng Kak community prevented those who wanted to participate from making their way to the event. The two men, the executive director of NGO Sahmakum Teang Tnaut and a deputy director of LICADHO, were part of a group who were stopped around 2 km from Prey Sar. They are currently being held at Dangkao district police station along with one member of Borei Keila community. Three members of Boeung Kak community were arrested as they attempted to leave the Boeung Kak area and are being held at Daun Penh police station.
Published on May 1, 2016
This morning, over 1,400 workers mobilized around Phnom Penh to celebrate International Labour Day.
More than 600 people from unions, associations and other groups gathered at the Olympic Stadium to call for better respect of workers’ rights and freedom of association. At the National Assembly, another 800 people also gathered to celebrate. After the events, some participants moved to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to protest the ongoing detention of five civil society members, including four staffers from human rights organisation ADHOC, by the ACU.
Published on May 1, 2016
About 8am this morning, the five civil society members previously detained at the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) were transferred to the Phnom Penh Court of First Instance where they expect to be charged.
The group, four human rights workers from ADHOC and one deputy secretary-general of the National Election Committee, have been detained for three days while undergoing questioning by the ACU in relation to an alleged extramarital affair by opposition leader Kem Sokha. The decision by the ACU to detain the five has been strongly condemned by civil society groups.
Published on April 28, 2016
This morning, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court began the trial of three members of the Prime Minister’s Bodyguard Unit charged with the brutal beating of two CNRP MPs, Nhay Chamroeun and Kong Sophea, outside the gates of the National Assembly during an anti-Kem Sokha protest on October 26 last year.
The three soldiers, Mao Hoeung, Sot Vanny and Chhay Sarith are charged with intentional violence with aggravating circumstances and intentional property damage with aggravating circumstances under Criminal Code Articles 218 and 411, respectively. Despite clear evidence of additional perpetrators, the authorities closed the official investigation after the three men came turned themselves in to the police.
Chhay Sarith admitted responsibility for the violence against one of the MPs, citing verbal provocation and - contrary to previous denials - confirmed the identity of the defendants as members of the elite bodyguard unit. However, lawyers for the MPs were prevented from questioning the role of the unit in the violence and wider anti-CNRP protest by the trial judge after complaints from the prosecutor and defence lawyers.
The judge has now suspended proceedings until 10 May 2016 and will resume to hear testimony from all defendants on the attacks against both opposition MPs.
Published on April 4, 2016
This morning, at least two trade unionists were injured as a peaceful gathering near Cambodia's National Assembly to protest the draft Trade Union Law (TUL) was violently broken up by authorities.
About 50 unionists from various unions and associations were prevented from gathering outside the National Assembly by roadblocks and over 100 mixed police forces. As they peacefully assembled in front of the roadblock, the group was suddenly and violently dispersed by about 30 para-police. Sut Chet, from the Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW), was chased and beaten around the head by a group of para-police. Chea Udom, also from CUMW, was also beaten as he tried to help him. Police standing nearby did nothing to stop the violence.
The draft law will be voted on by the National Assembly later today. It has been subject to ongoing national and international criticism, including a UN legal analysis which concluded that the TUL violated national and international law.