Latest Flash Info & ArticlesFlash Info: Supreme Court Denies Bail For Activist Arrested Over Kem Ley Memorial
Published on November 4, 2019
The Supreme Court issued a verdict this morning denying bail to Kong Raiya, who was arrested on 9 July 2019 after advertising in a Facebook post that he was selling t-shirts featuring the image of slain political analyst Kem Ley.
Raiya was charged with “incitement to commit felony”, along with Soung Neakpaon, who was arrested the day after Raiya at a memorial event for Kem Ley and faces the same charges. Both men are currently being held in CC1 prison in Phnom Penh.
Eighty-seven civil society groups, unions and grassroots communities, including LICADHO, issued a statement calling for the release of both Raiya and Neakpaon a few days after their arrest in July. The statement noted their arrests were arbitrary and a clear violation of the pair’s right to freedom of expression under the Cambodian Constitution. Five current human rights special rapporteurs from the United Nations (UN) also called for the dropping of all charges against both Raiya and Neakpaon and urged the Cambodian government to release both men. International human rights organization Amnesty International has labeled Raiya and Neakpaon “Prisoners of Conscience” and also called for their release, as has the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR).
Published on October 23, 2019
More than 500 people from land communities, civil society organisations, unions and independent analyst groups gathered in Phnom Penh on Wednesday morning to celebrate the 28th anniversary of the Paris Peace Accords.
The celebration occured at the relocated Freedom Park, and speeches were given praising the promises of peace, democracy, respect for human rights and development enshrined in the Paris Peace Accords. Representatives from the US and EU embassy joined participants to listen to speeches from independent analysts and union leaders, who discussed the importance of respect for human rights and pluralistic democracy. Dozens of plainclothes and uniformed security officers were also present.
Organisers were denied permission to march from The Council for the Development of Cambodia and instead held the event in the confines of Freedom Park. The government announced earlier this year that October 23, Paris Peace Accords Day, will no longer be an official holiday starting next year.
Published on October 21, 2019
More than 100 community members were blocked by mixed security forces in Tbong Khmum province today as they traveled to protest the arrest of two community representatives last week and observe a civil case filed by a rubber company seeking to deny them access to community land.
Community members posted on their community’s Facebook page this morning that the villagers from Dambe district were traveling to observe the court process at the Tbong Khmum provincial court, but their vehicles were stopped by authorities en route. After about 100 security forces halted the community and barricaded the roads about 20 kilometers from the court, the community members were forced to walk the remaining distance and, after arriving at the court, were observed by about 50 additional security forces.
Villagers went to monitor a civil case filed by a representative of Harmony Win Investment Co, a Chinese-owned rubber plantation that is involved in a long-standing conflict with the community over communal forest land. Villagers have repeatedly called for local and national authorities to resolve the conflict, which affects more than 600 families. They also called for the release of two community representatives involved in the dispute, Phon Chhoeun and Sem Sang, who were arrested last week and are currently being detained in Kampong Cham prison over charges related to the land dispute.
Published on October 3, 2019
The Phnom Penh Municipal Court this morning once again delayed a verdict announcement for two former Radio Free Asia journalists, Uon Chhin and Yeang Sothearin, who face charges of providing information to a foreign power that could undermine national defence. The judge ordered further investigation of the case, a judgement that came amidst a trial that has failed to provide any credible evidence substantiating the charges.
LICADHO calls for all charges against the two former journalists to be immediately dropped.
A Phnom Penh Municipal Court judge announced this morning that the court would not issue a verdict announcement in the case and instead would further investigate several key facts, including conducting further forensic analysis on hard drives that have been in the court’s possession for more than 18 months. No timeframe was given for such an investigation. This ongoing legal process means that the two former journalists could continue to face charges without any credible evidence indefinitely.
Chhin and Sothearin were charged under Article 445 of the Criminal Code for activities which can “undermine national defence” and Articles 38 and 39 of the human trafficking law. They were arrested on 14 November 2017 and spent more than nine months in pre-trial detention before being granted bail. The two men worked for RFA prior to the outlet shuttering its Phnom Penh bureau as a result of a wave of government’s repression that silenced a number of independent media outlets, including RFA’s FM radio broadcasts.
Both men have denied the accusations levied against them by authorities, while local and international rights groups and press freedom advocates have repeatedly called for the immediate dropping of all charges against the former journalists.
Published on July 25, 2019
Kong Raiya and Soung Neakpaon, two activists arrested on 9 and 10 July 2019 while peacefully commemorating the anniversary of political analyst Kem Ley’s murder, were denied bail by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday afternoon.
Both men were arrested after peacefully exercising their freedom of expression and were charged with criminal incitement. Raiya, 28, was arrested on 9 July 2019 after he posted on Facebook that he was selling t-shirts featuring the image of Kem Ley, and also posted the phone number of a taxi driver who could bring people to Phnom Penh to commemorate the slain analyst. Neakpaon, 29, was arrested the day after Raiya outside of the Caltex Bokor petrol station where Kem Ley was murdered three years earlier. Neakpaon, a former member of Kem Ley’s youth group, was holding a sign that read “End extrajudicial killings” prior to his arrest.
Neither of these men should be in prison for exercising their freedom of expression, which is guaranteed under Cambodian and international law. LICADHO reiterates the call from 87 civil society groups for authorities to immediately release both men and drop all charges against them.
Published on July 10, 2019
Authorities detained seven people on July 9 and July 10 for expressing their condolences and support for murdered political commentator Kem Ley, while people marking the third anniversary of his killing at the site of his murder in Phnom Penh were surrounded by police. These detentions mark the continuation of a heavy-handed crackdown by authorities on Cambodians’ right to free expression and assembly.
This morning, three activists were detained outside Caltex Bokor petrol station in Phnom Penh – the location of Kem Ley’s murder on July 10, 2016 – after they joined other youth activists, union leaders and civil society members to mark the anniversary. The detainees included environmental activists Chum Hout and Chum Hour.
Published on April 1, 2019
Sum Meun, a Preah Vihear community representative who was missing for more than two months, has been located by his family in Sihanoukville.
Sum Meun disappeared from the Koulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary Headquarters on January 21, a day after being arrested and beaten by soldiers who were hired as security guards for a land concession granted to Metrei Pheap Kase-Ousahakam Co. Ltd, in Choam Khsant district’s Yeang commune. The concession has links to tycoon An Mady.
The community representative was last seen by his son, Meun Mean, who was arrested along with Sum Meun. He left the province in January due to fears for his safety. Preah Vihear provincial authorities released a statement on 31 March confirming that they met with Sum Meun in Phnom Penh over the weekend.
The Choam Khsant district governor met with Sum Meun in Phnom Penh and said that an arrest warrant for the community representative, issued shortly after his disappearance, will not be enforced.
Sum Meun’s disappearance occurred as part of a series of arrests that led to 14 people from the community being sent to pre-trial detention, including Meun’s son. They have been charged under Articles 62 and 54 of the Law on Natural Protected Areas, relating to the clearing of forestland, and can face up to ten years in prison and 150 million riel in fines.
The arrests followed years of harassment of villagers in the community at the hands of authorities, including the burning of homes, arbitrary arrests and continued intimidation of villagers locked in this land conflict.
Published on March 21, 2019
Today marks two months since Preah Vihear community representative Sum Meun disappeared after he was beaten and illegally arrested by armed military officials. The disappearance was part of a slew of arrests made over two weeks in January of villagers entangled in a conflict with a land concession granted to Metrei Pheap Kase-Ousahakam Co. Ltd. The company has links to tycoon An Mady.
The 54-year-old Meun and his son, Meun Mean, were arrested on January 20 by military soldiers from Battalion 261 under RCAF Intervention Brigade 6 - acting as security guards for the concession holder in Choam Khsant district’s Yeang commune. Witnesses reported that Meun was beaten following his arrest. The pair was then transferred to the Koulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary Headquarters where they were both detained overnight.
Published on January 30, 2019
Cambodia’s human rights record comes under review at the UN Human Rights Council today as part of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process.
LICADHO contributed to two joint submissions with the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and Forum-Asia which catalogue state repression of human rights defenders, media and civil society, as well as the human cost of rampant land grabbing.
Published on January 26, 2019
A man was shot and critically injured by mixed security forces after more than 100 police, gendarmes, and soldiers descended on Kokir village, in Preah Sihanouk province, on Thursday morning to enforce a Supreme Court decision awarding disputed land to nine families.
When the heavily armed security forces tried to enter the site in Bet Trang commune, protesters, some holding sticks, burned tires and threw rocks to prevent them. Security forces - including soldiers from Preah Sihanouk provincial sub-operational zone then withdrew, regrouped, and re-entered the village. This time they fired dozens of shots of live ammunition into the air as well as into the crowd in what was a clearly excessive use of force.
Published on January 22, 2019
About 100 people including trade unionists, teachers, and tuk-tuk drivers gathered in central Phnom Penh this morning to commemorate the fifteenth anniversary of the murder of Chea Vichea, one of the country’s most prominent trade unionists.
On 22 January 2004, Vichea was shot in broad daylight at a newspaper stall near the capital’s Wat Langka temple. Trade union activists and members of civil society gathered metres away from the site of his murder this morning to hold a Buddhist ceremony and give speeches honouring the former union leader, who served as President of the Free Trade Union of the Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia (FTUWKC).
The injustice of Vichea’s murder was later compounded by the false convictions of two innocent men, Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeurn, who were falsely accused of his murder. Both men spent five years in prison before their sentences were overturned. Participants at the commemoration called on authorities to find the real perpetrators and provide justice for Vichea, his family and friends.
Published on January 3, 2019
Around 100 unionists, workers and rights activists gathered for a memorial ceremony this afternoon to mark five years since security forces opened fire on striking workers at Phnom Penh’s Veng Sreng Boulevard, killing four and injuring dozens.
Today’s commemoration was held at association and union coalition Solidarity House and attended by garment workers, unionists and families of the victims. Participants took part in a religious blessing ceremony and a discussion on the minimum wage protests, where workers were demanding a $160 living wage, and the ensuing violence.
Victims of the violence called for security forces members to be held accountable for the killings and for protest-related charges against workers and union leaders to be dropped immediately.
Published on January 3, 2019
Residents of Phnom Penh’s Borei Keila community today commemorated the seven-year anniversary of their violent and forced eviction in 2012, to make way for a high-rise development project owned by an influential businesswoman.
Around 40 community and civil society members gathered at the site to perform a religious ceremony and addressed the media on their eviction and land rights issues. However, 10 police officers were present at the site to monitor the event, and prevented residents from hanging or holding banners highlighting their grievances.
On 3 January 2012, residents of the community were evicted from the site when Phan Imex Corporation, owned by well-connected tycoon Suy Sophan, demolished their homes without any notice, with the aid of the armed state forces.
Phan Imex was given the land under a deal that would see them develop ten buildings on the site to relocate the residents, leaving 2.6 hectares to be developed by the firm. However in 2010, it reneged on the deal after developing only eight buildings, leaving out 300 families from the original agreement.
While many families moved to relocation sites outside the city, which lacked access to basic services, some have returned to the site and continue to live in decrepit conditions demanding a fair resolution to the evictions.
Published on December 10, 2018
Phnom Penh municipality banned a Human Rights Day march planned for this morning but celebrations went ahead nonetheless amid a heavy police presence at a government-approved location four kilometres from the city centre. Security forces wearing crash helmets outnumbered participants and cordoned off the square.
Several hundred garment workers, farmers, teachers, trade unionists, community representatives and youths attended the event organised by trade unions and associations at the so-called “new” Freedom Park in Russey Keo district. The municipality threatened legal action if the organisers went ahead with a march affecting “security and public order”, despite the fact that 10 December is an annual public holiday with far less traffic in the city.
Despite recent government declarations about the lifting of restrictions on civil society groups, authorities continued to restrict the movements of communities across the country, preventing them from gathering in public, demanding letters of permission and dictating where they could meet.
Published on December 7, 2018
To mark the international campaign 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence (25 November – 10 December) LICADHO is highlighting women land campaigners and human rights defenders (HRDs) who face state violence in Cambodia.
At least a half a million Cambodians have lost their land and homes in forced evictions over the last two decades and women have been at the forefront of peaceful protests demanding justice and fair compensation. Their activism has often been met with violent attacks by security forces as well as judicial harassment and arbitrary detention.
Over the 16 days, we are publishing profiles of women who – despite many hardships – continue to speak out in solidarity with others to demand justice.
Sor Sorn (58) has faced repeated harassment, arrests and detentions for protesting against the violent forced eviction of Borei Keila community in Phnom Penh.