Latest Flash News & ArticlesFlash News: Veng Sreng Verdict Upheld After Farcical Appeal
Published on February 4, 2016
This morning, the Court of Appeal upheld the convictions of 13 workers charged with aggravated intentional violence, aggravated intentional destruction of property, obstruction and insult. The charges relate to deadly clashes between striking workers and mixed police and military forces – who shot and killed at least four people, leaving scores more injured – on Veng Sreng Road in January 2014.
The appeal hearing, held on January 27, 2016, was conducted in the absence of the defendants and their lawyers, who had been denied a request to delay the hearing in order to inform defendants. Plaintiffs – comprised of mixed police and military police forces – claimed that state forces had used only wooden batons and tear gas during the lethal clampdown, in defiance of witnesses and footage showing their use of live ammunition.
The appeal hearing of 10 further workers and human rights defenders arrested during clashes on January 2, 2014 has been delayed indefinitely. The original trial of all 23, in May 2014, was characterized by a total absence of fair trial rights and a clear lack of judicial impartiality. No one has yet been held accountable to the four deaths, dozens of hospitalisations and one disappearance during the two days of state violence, which ended a period of mass protest by garment workers and pro-opposition party supporters.
Published on January 20, 2016
Today over 300 protesters from four communes, Kandoul, Chi Khor Leu, Chi Khor Krom and Dang Peng delivered petitions to their respective commune offices to protest land grabbing by sugar producers in Sre Ambel district. The protest is the latest in a series of actions by the communities since the dispute began in 2006.
The communities delivered the petition to their commune chiefs demanding their support for the return of land and compensation for 753 families after a decade-long dispute with the Thai sugar company KSL. The conflict with the sugar company concerns the land grabbing of over 900 hectares of land and the loss of livelihoods for local families after the companies, at the time co-owned by CPP Senator Ly Yong Phat, were granted adjacent land concessions totaling almost 20,000 hectares.
After delivering the petition to all four commune offices the protesters returned to their homes after setting a two week deadline for the authorities to provide a resolution.
Published on January 11, 2016
Today, communities gathered in three provinces across Cambodia to protest forced evictions and call for an end to their land conflicts.
In Kampong Speu, communities from Oral district gathered outside HLH Agriculture Co. on the first of a planned multi-day protest against land grabs perpetrated by the company since 2009. The group, of about 100 community members, plans to continue their demonstration for three more days.
In a separate land protest, about 40 people from Ochheuteal beach community, Spean Chhes community and Kampenh Chas community in Sihanoukville gathered outside the provincial government office to demand a resolution to their land conflicts.
And in Banteay Meanchey, land activists from Poipet’s railway community continued a series of protests against a railway project which has affected almost 1,000 families in Poipet and Phasar Kandal commune. One of the activists, Chheng Bunhak, was arrested and charged with incitement following a similar such protest on 14 December.
Published on January 3, 2016
This morning, around 300 unionists, garment factory workers, monks, NGO staff and land rights activists gathered for a memorial ceremony on Veng Sreng Road in Phnom Penh where two years ago state security forces shot at striking workers, killing four and injuring many more.
Today’s commemoration went ahead despite heavy-handed policing throughout: around 500 police and security guards attempted to disrupt the gathering by shoving participants, confiscating banners and breaking up groups of people as they congregated. Among the participants were family members of the deceased, and workers and union leaders who were arrested and wrongfully imprisoned following the violence two years ago.
Published on December 2, 2015
This afternoon, three community representatives were sentenced to two years in prison by Ratanakiri court as over 100 supporters gathered outside the courtroom to protest the proceedings.
The community representatives were first summonsed in May 2015 as an intimidation tactic in the midst of a land conflict which started in 2012, when workers hired by Phnom Penh businessman Heang Socheat – and with the support of armed police – began clearing hundreds of hectares of land which had supported the livelihoods of 100 families living in Borkeo district.
Sout Soeun, Em Chan, and Chreuk Touck were convicted of charges relating to infringement of ownership under Articles 247, 248 and 253 of the Land Law. Only Article 253 carries a prison sentence, and is defined as ‘violence against a possessor of immovable property’. Despite a complete lack of any evidence of violence, all three received maximum prison sentences and were immediately sent to Ratanakiri prison following their sentencing. After the verdict was announced, supporters were pushed away from the entrance of the courthouse by armed military police.
Published on October 30, 2015
This morning, Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) leader Kem Sokha was removed as first vice president of Cambodia’s National Assembly in a vote passed unanimously by all 68 ruling party lawmakers following a walkout by all present CNRP lawmakers earlier this morning. The vote took place while almost half of CNRP's MPs are out of the country.
The removal comes four days after CPP-orchestrated protests in the capital calling for Kem Sokha to stand down outside the National Assembly left two CNRP MPs badly beaten, as well as protests against him by armed soldiers in northwestern Oddar Meanchey and Preah Vihear provinces. Two days after the protests, senior CPP lawmakers Pen Panha and Cheam Yeap officially requested for Kem Sokha to be removed.
Published on October 23, 2015
Groups across Cambodia gathered today to mark the 24th anniversary of the Paris Peace Accords by calling on the government to respect human rights and peaceful democracy.
About 50 land activists from Boeung Kak Lake community, as well as about 200 youths and monks across Battambang, Kampong Cham, Takeo and Phnom Penh, urged the government to respect the agreement by ensuring peace, upholding fundamental rights, including a democratic political system, and ensuring Cambodia’s sovereignty. The calls for peace come after comments from Prime Minister Hun Sen warning of civil war in Cambodia should the opposition CNRP party win the next national election.
Published on October 7, 2015
The trial of Sam Rainsy Party Senator Hong Sok Hour was suspended shortly after resuming this afternoon to reinvestigate documents submitted by the defence team and to call in specialists to analyse methods of finding and downloading documents from the internet.
Hong Sok Hour was charged with forgery of public documents, use of forged public documents, and incitement to commit a crime after posting an altered version of a reproduction of the 1979 treaty between Cambodia and Vietnam on Facebook. He has been detained in CC1 prison since his arrest on 16 August.
There is no date set for the trial resumption, which began on 2 October immediately following Hong Sok Hour’s rejected bail hearing.
Published on October 7, 2015
This morning, Areng Valley community representative and CPP commune councilor Vein Vorn was arrested on charges relating to his activism and sent to Koh Kong provincial prison.
He has been at the forefront of Areng Valley community’s campaign to stop the controversial development of a hydroelectric dam by the Pheapimex group – headed by ruling party senator Lao Meng King – and their Chinese partner Sinohydro. He now faces charges under Article 98 of the Forestry Law and 533 of the Criminal Code for leading the construction of a small communal meeting space built by the Areng Valley community to support their activism. About 40 community members are currently outside the court protesting his arrest.
Three activists from NGO Mother Nature, who were also active in protesting the hydrodam, have been in detention since August 17 for their role in an ongoing campaign to end alleged illegal sand dredging in Koh Kong.
Published on October 2, 2015
This morning, monks from the Independent Monk Network for Social Justice (IMNSJ) gathered in Battambang town to call for an end to deforestation in Prey Lang forest.
The group of monks, led by Venerable But Buntenh, urged authorities to conserve Cambodia’s natural resources, particularly the endangered Prey Lang forest. The event was the latest in an ongoing campaign to protect Prey Lang. In July, monks from IMNSJ, together with other land activists, had submitted a petition to the Forestry Administration demanding an end to illegal logging in the forest.
Published on September 21, 2015
This morning, three activists from NGO Mother Nature were again denied bail after an Appeal Court hearing in Phnom Penh.
The three – Try Sovikea, 23; Sun Mala, 23; and Sim Samnang, 28 – were arrested on August 17 amid an ongoing campaign to end alleged illegal sand dredging in Koh Kong. They have been charged under Article 424 of the Penal Code with threatening to cause destruction, defacement or damage and ordering others to do so, and are currently detained in Koh Kong prison.
The bail verdict came after more than a month of sustained protests outside Koh Kong provincial court calling for their release, as well as for the resolution of other Koh Kong land conflicts. The activists were first denied bail by Koh Kong provincial court on August 31.
Published on September 16, 2015
Two men from Andoung Trabek community were tried by Svay Rieng provincial court this morning under charges of clearing state forest as dozens of security forces, as well as soldiers, mobilized outside to prevent about 40 of their supporters from gathering.
Suon Seiha and Suon Hongly were charged under Article 97 of the forestry law in 2012 as an intimidation tactic against Andoung Trabek community, who have repeatedly contested multiple land-grabs by local authorities – allegedly including forestry administration officers – which date back to 2008. The verdict of today’s trial is due on 23 September.
The deployment of soldiers, which obstructed the community gathering in support outside the court, has become common practice in Svay Rieng whenever authorities perceive a risk of communities gathering in the provincial town.
Published on September 10, 2015
This morning, Ouk Pich Samnang was convicted of intentional violence and obstructing authorities, in defiance of testimony and lack of evidence, and sentenced to a further two years in prison relating to an October 2014 protest.
He was arrested following a protest outside the Prime Minister’s house by a Preah Vihear community calling for a solution to their land conflict. Police arrested him as he tried to recover from injuries caused by beatings from security guards during the protest, in which several other protesters were injured, including one who was hospitalised. No one has faced legal action for the excessive force used to disperse the protesters.
During his trial, not one civil party or witness who testified identified Ouk Pich Samnang as using violence, including the chief of the Daun Penh district security guards, and three civil parties actively said he was not responsible for their injuries. He was convicted nevertheless under Articles 218 and 503 of the penal code as well as being fined four million riel and ordered to pay 10 million riel in compensation to the civil parties.
Ouk Pich Samnang was among the 11 CNRP activists and supporters convicted under charges relating to insurrection following another protest in July 2014, and has been incarcerated in CC1 prison since their convictions in July 2015 after a show trial. With today’s judgement, he is set to serve a total of nine years’ imprisonment.
Published on August 19, 2015
Supporters of three arrested activists from Mother Nature have been blocked from entering Koh Kong city to protest their arrests.
The three activists – Try Sovikea, 23; Sun Mala, 23; and Sim Samnang, 28 – were arrested on August 17 amid an ongoing campaign to end alleged illegal sand dredging in Koh Kong. They have been charged under Article 424 of the Penal Code with threatening to cause destruction, defacement or damage and ordering others to do so, and are currently detained in Koh Kong prison. About 40 supporters, who were planning to gather outside Koh Kong provincial court to protest their arrests, have been blocked from entering the city by military police. Another 45 supporters, who managed to enter the city before the road block was in place, are protesting the arrests outside Koh Kong prison.
Published on August 16, 2015
Sam Rainsy Party Senator Hong Sok Hour, who was arrested yesterday, has been sent to CC1 prison.
He has been charged with forgery of public documents (Article 629 of Cambodia’s Criminal Code), use of forged public documents (Article 630), and incitement to commit a crime (Articles 494 & 495). The Senator was accused of treason by Prime Minister Hun Sen in a speech on Thursday for allegedly publishing an altered version of a 1979 treaty between Cambodia and Vietnam on his Facebook page on Wednesday.