Latest Flash News & ArticlesFlash News: Opposition MP Convicted, Sentenced on Incitement Charges
Published on October 10, 2016
This afternoon, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court sentenced opposition CNRP MP Um Sam An to two years and six months’ imprisonment with a four million riel ($1,000) fine after convicting him of incitement to commit a felony and incitement to commit discrimination under Articles 495 and 496 of the Cambodian Criminal Code.
During the trial hearing, Um Sam An and his lawyers made repeated complaints that the trial amounted to a violation of his constitutional rights to parliamentary immunity and freedom of expression before leaving the court in protest. Trial judge Heng Sokna completed the hearing in their absence.
The case relates to online expression and Facebook posts made by Um Sam An over one year ago in relation to the ongoing political dispute between the ruling party and the opposition over Cambodia’s border with Vietnam. The authorities interpreted the continued existence of the Facebook posts one year later as evidence of a “flagrant offence” – bypassing Um Sam An’s parliamentary immunity.
Published on September 19, 2016
This morning, Boeung Kak Lake representatives Tep Vanny, Bo Chhorvy, Kong Chantha and Heng Mom were found guilty of obstruction of a public official with aggravating circumstances and insult relating to a November 2011 protest.
Judge Ly Sokleng sentenced all four women to six months' imprisonment after a three-hour hearing at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court. Tep Vanny was sent back to pre-trial detention in CC2 prison – where she has now been for nearly five weeks – for separate charges relating to a protest held by Boeung Kak Lake community in 2013 in front of the Prime Minister's house. No special enforcement order was issued so Bo Chhorvy and Kong Chantha – as well as Heng Mom, who was tried in absentia – were not arrested as their sentence will not be enforced until all appeals are exhausted. None of the evidence presented at the trial sufficiently proved the guilt of the four women.
About 30 community members and supporters from other land communities and civil society groups gathered outside the court during the trial.
Published on September 14, 2016
This morning a group of representatives from the Boeung Kak Lake community delivered petitions to the World Bank and the embassy of the Delegation of the European Union to Cambodia – calling for intervention to secure a resolution for the community’s remaining land conflict, the release of detained activist Tep Vanny and the dropping of charges against all members of the Boeung Kak Lake community.
At the World Bank, a group of approximately 30 para-police confronted the community representatives, accusing them of obstructing entrances to the World Bank before pushing the gathering away from the building. Shortly afterwards a representative of the World Bank accepted the petition.
At the European Union, Boeung Kak Lake representatives Bov Sophea and Song Sreyleap were permitted to enter the embassy, where an assistant to the ambassador accepted the petition. After leaving the embassy Song Sreyleap delivered a short speech to the media calling on the Cambodian government to resolve the remaining land dispute and to clear all criminal charges against members of the community. The representatives pledged to follow up on the petitions.
Published on September 9, 2016
Deputy opposition CNRP leader Kem Sokha was tried in absentia over an hour-long hearing this morning on charges of refusing a summons to appear in court. The prosecutor requested the court treat this as a flagrant offence, so that Kem Sokha cannot benefit from his parliamentary immunity.
The charges were brought in May after Kem Sokha refused two summons to appear as a witness in a case against two CNRP MPs accused of procurement. Their case, in turn, relates to accusations of prostitution leveled against Srey Mom, a woman with whom Kem Sokha had an alleged affair.
About 200 CNRP supporters gathered outside the court during the trial, with a heavy mixed police presence in the nearby Olympic Stadium. One supporter - a CNRP Phnom Penh treasurer Om Dara - was arrested and brought to 7 Makara police station following a brief scuffle between police and supporters.
At the CNRP headquarters in Phnom Penh, Kem Sokha spoke to about 500 CNRP supporters from across the country who gathered there despite police roadblocks set up yesterday at all the main roads into the city and reports of CNRP supporters blocked from coming to Phnom Penh from Svay Rieng and Kampot.
Update: At 2pm, Kem Sokha was convicted of refusing to appear in court under Article 538 of Cambodia's Criminal Code. Trial judge Keo Mony sentenced him to five months' imprisonment with an 800,000 riel (about $200) fine.
Published on September 5, 2016
Six land activists detained in Dangkor district police station since yesterday were finally released this afternoon as groups marked the 18th week of the Black Monday campaign.
The six women – who include a 76-year old injured during their arrest – were held overnight in the police station following their arrest yesterday during a peaceful gathering to call for the release of incarcerated human rights defenders, including Boeung Kak Lake community representative Tep Vanny who was arrested during a Black Monday event on 15 August.
Earlier this morning, police and para-police shut down a separate Black Monday event held by Borei Keila community, ripping down and burning Black Monday posters and signs.
Published on September 4, 2016
Six women from Phnom Penh land communities and four balloon sellers are currently being held in Dangkor district police station after their arrest this morning during a gathering outside Prey Sar’s CC2 prison.
About 100 people from land communities and other groups had gathered outside the prison this morning to call for the release of detained human rights defenders, including Boeung Kak Lake community representative Tep Vanny. As the group attempted to gather outside CC2’s gate, police and para-police confiscated balloons. They arrested the ten people - Yeay Mamy from Boeung Kak Lake community; Phoung Sopheap, Meas Sreypao, Sok Raksmey, Kiev Sary and Cheav Sreynich from Thmor Kol community; and balloon seller Seng Thy along with his son, Theoun Phanha, and nephews Poa Vichea and Chum Sobinkeo - before taking them to the police station.
Tep Vanny has been incarcerated in CC2 prison since 17 August. She had been arrested during a Black Monday gathering two days prior, swiftly tried and convicted of ‘insulting a public official’ within a week. She remains in pre-trial detention facing charges of intentional violence relating to a protest in March 2013, as well as further charges of obstructing and insulting a public official relating to protests in 2011. These old cases were reactivated just last week.
The four balloon sellers were released at about 12pm, after about three hours in detention. The six land community members remain detained.
Published on August 22, 2016
This morning, Boeung Kak Lake activists Tep Vanny and Bov Sophea were convicted of ‘insulting a public official’ relating to a peaceful Black Monday protest last week and sentenced to six days’ imprisonment. Tep Vanny, facing pre-trial detention under charges of intentional violence which were brought last week relating to a 2013 protest, will be returned to Prey Sar’s CC2 prison. Bov Sophea should be released later today.
After just 18 minutes of deliberation, following a ninety-minute trial, the trial judge Pech Vicheator unexpectedly altered their charge to ‘insult of a public official’ (Criminal Code Article 502) – announcing the change during the delivery of his verdict – and sentenced Tep Vanny and Bov Sophea to the maximum six days’ imprisonment. After presenting a defense against the original incitement offences, lawyers were given no opportunity to defend against the altered insult charges, in a violation of the rights for adequate time and resources to prepare a defense.
On Friday, Tep Vanny was brought from provisional detention in CC2 prison to Phnom Penh Municipal Court for interview in relation to a protest outside Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house in 2013 and subsequently charged with intentional violence. The protest in question ended in one of the most violent crackdowns against the community, leaving five citizens injured, including some with broken bones.
Published on August 19, 2016
This afternoon activist Tep Vanny, whose trial under incitement charges began two days ago, was brought to Phnom Penh Municipal Court for interview in relation to a protest outside Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house in 2013.
Pro-government media outlet Freshnews, referring to Tep Vanny with the politically-loaded label ‘colour revolutionary’, reported that the questioning related to a different case of international violence with aggravating circumstances. She was questioned by Judge Nou Veasna, who was one of the trial judges in last year’s CNRP ‘insurrection’ case, without the presence of her lawyers.
Tep Vanny was arrested on Monday alongside fellow land activist Bov Sophea during a gathering in their community in support of the Black Monday campaign in an apparently targeted arrest. The pair were charged and sent to immediate trial on Wednesday, which was then suspended until Monday 22 August. The two women have been in Prey Sar’s CC2 prison since then.
Published on August 17, 2016
Two Boeung Kak Lake activists are currently being tried under incitement charges following their arrest on Monday evening during a peaceful demonstration in their community to mark the 15th week of the “Black Monday” campaign.
Tep Vanny and Bov Sophea, both long-time activists from Boueng Kak Lake community, spent two nights detained in Daun Penh police station after para-police broke up Monday evening’s peaceful event, held by the community to call for the release of five imprisoned human rights defenders and for justice for the recent murder of political analyst and Black Monday supporter Kem Ley. They were charged by prosecutor Keo Socheat with incitement under Article 495 of Cambodia’s Criminal Code this afternoon, after a day of interrogation at Phnom Penh’s Municipal Court, and immediately sent to trial.
The charges represent a major escalation in police response to peaceful Black Monday protests. Altogether, such protests have resulted in at least 36 arrests since they began in May. Today is the first time Black Monday protesters have been charged.
The trial has been postponed until 8am on Monday, Aug 22. The two activists have been sent to pre-trial detention in Prey Sar's CC2 prison until then.
Published on August 4, 2016
Today 74 representatives of communities in Chi Khor Leu commune, Sre Ambel district, Koh Kong submitted five petitions at government, parliamentary and diplomatic offices in Phnom Penh calling for a resolution to their decade-old land conflict.
The protest is the latest in a series of actions by the communities protesting against land grabbing by sugar producers in Sre Ambel district. The dispute began in 2006 following the establishment of sugar Economic Land Concessions (ELCs) in Koh Kong.
The peaceful protest saw representatives carrying banners and flags deliver petitions to the Ministry of Land Management, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the Ministry of Commerce. Other petitions were delivered to the embassy of the European Union Delegation to Cambodia and the National Assembly.
After submitting their petition to the National Assembly, Chi Khor Leu community representative Phav Nherng gave a brief press conference during which she called for both the government and opposition to help resolve their long-running land conflict. She also expressed her disappointment that the National Assembly was unable to intervene due to its workload and scheduled parliamentary holidays.
Published on August 3, 2016
This morning, over 200 people from 18 communities engaged in land disputes in Sihanoukville province assembled outside the Sihanoukville governor’s office.
The group requested a meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen, in the hopes that he might intervene and bring an end to their land conflict. The Prime Minister has been on a travel schedule visiting several provinces in the last few weeks.
17 community representatives and an ADHOC staffer have met with deputy governor Chhit Seng Nhuon and are currently waiting to meet with the Prime Minister.
Authorities on site are monitoring the demonstration; there have been no reports of roadblocks or violent altercations.
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.