Latest Flash News & Articles

Flash News: Another high profile case reaches Appeals Court; Mam Sonando’s hearing to continue tomorrow
Published on March 5, 2013

On the morning of March 5, 2013, the Appeals Court opened a hearing to review the verdict against independent radio owner Mam Sonando and two co-defendants, Touch Ream and Kan Sovann. The court was standing room only for the proceeding, with around 55 people, including numerous international observers, in attendance. The hearing follows the September 2012 trial in Phnom Penh’s lower court which resulted in a widely condemned 20-year-long prison sentence for 72-year-old Sonando. No evidence of Sonando’s involvement in an alleged “secession” in Kratie province was presented during the trial, nor was there any evidence that a secession movement even existed.

The hearing is expected to end tomorrow.

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Flash News: Appeals Court Cements Lesser Charge Against Bandith, Orders Trial
Published on March 4, 2013

This afternoon, the Appeals Court's Investigation Chamber charged ex-Bavet town governor Chhouk Bandith with causing involuntary bodily harm under article 236 of the Penal Code, and sent the case file back to the Svay Rieng court for trial. The Appeals Court apparently did not consider a more serious accusation than the one originally submitted against Bandith to loud public outcry. This decision follows a two-day long closed hearing in which Bandith admitted to shooting his weapon during the worker's protest that resulted in serious gun shot injuries to three women, but denied knowing where the bullets went. A key witness who testified during the hearing, a commune police deputy chief, said that he believed Bandith was the shooter, as he saw Bandith pointing his handgun at workers seconds after the shooting. No evidence has been reported related to potential alternate shooters.

The Appeals Court did not order pre-trial detention for Bandith. The charge carries a prison sentence of six months to two years.

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Flash News: Appeals Court Concludes Hearing for Former Bavet Governor; Verdict due March 4
Published on March 1, 2013

The appeal hearing for former Bavet city governor Chhouk Bandith, which began on Feb. 27, concluded yesterday after a full day of testimony from witnesses. The hearing was called to determine whether to reopen criminal charges against Bandith for allegedly shooting three protesting garment workers in February 2012. Charges against Bandith were dropped in December.

During the hearing, Bandith reportedly acknowledged firing his gun, while police witnesses reportedly testified that Bandith brandished a gun at the protest and fired shots. One key witness -- a commune deputy police chief -- said that he believed Bandith was the shooter.

The court will announce its decision on March 4.

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Flash News: Appeals Court Hears Case for Reinstating Charges against Former Bavet Governor
Published on February 27, 2013

Former Bavet city governor Chhouk Bandith appeared at the Court of Appeals in Phnom Penh today for a hearing examining an investigating judge’s decision in December to drop criminal charges against him.

The former governor was accused of firing his gun during a demonstration by garment workers in February 2012. Three workers -- whose factory supplies Puma, among others -- were injured by gunfire. Bandith actually admitted firing his gun, and was originally charged in the case, but the charges were inexplicably dropped in December.

The hearing was closed to the public, but outside the court, a group of union members, workers and other supporters gathered to call on the court to reinstate the charges.

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Article: 2012 in Review: Crackdown on Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Assembly
Published on February 15, 2013

The most shocking attack on freedom of expression in 2012 came in September, when muckraking journalist Hang Serei Oudom was murdered. His battered body, hacked at least six times with an axe, was found in the trunk of his car. Oudom’s work had focused on exposing illegal logging and forest crimes involving the local elite.

Meanwhile, as Cambodia’s ASEAN chairmanship unfolded and the 2012 commune election approached, the government demonstrated increased intolerance for peaceful assembly and expression.



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Article: 2012 in Review: The Judiciary, a Useful Weapon to Silence Critics
Published on February 14, 2013

Authorities continue to resort to the judicial system to silence those who assert their rights or question entrenched interests. Throughout 2012, court summonses and the threat of arrest were increasingly used to intimidate human rights defenders.



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Article: 2012 in Review: Use of Force Against Peaceful Protests
Published on February 13, 2013

As the frequency of land grabs has grown, so has the sense of desperation for Cambodians faced with eviction. The perpetrators of land grabs – from business leaders to police to hired hands who carry out actual evictions – operate with near complete impunity. Recourse to the notoriously corrupt judiciary is not an option. For the average Cambodian, the only avenue that offers the prospect of success is civil disobedience, namely public protest and individual action.

The government has become increasingly aggressive in attempting to shut down this avenue as well, despite the fact the vast majority of citizen protests documented by LICADHO during 2012 have been peaceful. Violence is often the government’s tactic of choice.



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Article: 2012 in Review: Land Grabbing, the Roots of Strife
Published on February 12, 2013

The human rights situation in Cambodia began 2012 teetering on the edge of a precipice, and by the end of the year had fallen off the cliff.

The sheer volume of shocking turns makes it difficult to choose where to begin a summary of 2012: Independent radio station owner Mam Sonando was sentenced to 20 years in prison on politically-motivated charges. The country’s most prominent environmental activist was shot dead in the forest while investigating illegal logging. A journalist working on logging issues was murdered in Ratanakiri province. A town governor opened fire on protesting garment workers and has yet to spend a day in prison. And 17 leaders from Phnom Penh communities facing eviction spent time in prison.



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Flash News: Cambodian Appeals Court Denies Bail for Jailed Radio Owner Mam Sonando
Published on December 13, 2012

Earlier this morning, the Appeals Court denied independent radio station owner Mam Sonando's request for release pending his appeal. Sonando, 71, was convicted earlier this year on multiple counts related to purportedly inciting an insurrectionist movement. The charges were widely decried as baseless and politically motivated. Although no credible evidence was presented in the trial court, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Since then, a growing number of voices - including the European Parliament and Unites States President Barack Obama - have openly called for his release.

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Flash News: LICADHO staff released from prison after serving two years on groundless charges
Published on May 30, 2012

LICADHO employee Leang Sokchoeun was released from Kandal Provincial Prison yesterday at 11 a.m., after fully serving his two-year sentence on dubious charges.

Leading human rights organizations from around the world - including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the International Federation for Human Rights and the World Organisation Against Torture -- condemned Sokchoeun's conviction as fundamentally flawed and a flagrant violation of domestic and international law.

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Flash News: International NGOs Call for Release of Boeung Kak activists
Published on May 29, 2012

The world's leading international human rights NGOs have issued a letter condemning the arbitrary arrest and mistreatment of Boeung Kak Lake activists, and calling upon the government to order their immediate release.

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Article: Civil Society Demands Transparency and Consultation on the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration
Published on April 8, 2012

In a joint statement released today, over 100 civil society organizations and networks across the ASEAN region have called for the release of the draft ASEAN Human Rights Declaration and the initiation of meaningful public consultations on its content. The Declaration is being drafted by the ASEAN Inter-governmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), which is meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, April 9-11, 2012.

The draft has been in development for nearly a year, but has not yet been released to the public.



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Flash News: FIDH and RSF urges France to Prevent Enactment of the Law on Associations and NGOs by the Cambodian Government
Published on October 15, 2011

Yesterday, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) sent an open letter to French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Foreign Minister Alain Juppé. The two organizations urges France, co-chairman of the Paris Conference, to pressure the Cambodian Government to drop its efforts to enact the widely criticized Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations in Cambodia.

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Flash News: International NGOs urging United Nations agencies to act on repressive Association & NGO Law
Published on September 15, 2011

Ten international organizations wrote to representatives of 17 United Nations (UN) agencies urging them to press the Cambodian Government to end its efforts to promulgate the repressive Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations (LANGO).

A copy of the letter sent to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) can be viewed in English or in Khmer.

(The letters were sent to FAO, UNFP, IFAD, UNHCR, ILO, UNICEF, IOM, UNIDO, OHCHR, UNODC, UNWomen, UNESCO, WHO, UNEP, WFP, UNDP and UNAIDS)

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Flash News: International NGOs urging foreign ministers worldwide to act on repressive Association & NGO Law
Published on August 27, 2011

Little time remains before the Law on Association and NGO is sent to the National Assembly leading to its final adoption. This week, 10 International NGOs wrote to 35 foreign ministers worldwide and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Baroness Ashton urging them to press the Royal Government of Cambodia to end efforts to promulgate this law. The letter also calls for a reassessment of bilateral assistance should the law be adopted in its current form.

A copy of the letter sent to US Secretary of State Clinton can be viewed in English or in Khmer.

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Prison Population Watch
12,784 Occupancy Rate: →153%

Click here for the latest report on prison overcrowding
Monthly population figures as of May 31, 2014, from the 18 prisons monitored by LICADHO

The Great Cambodian Giveaway

Visualizing Land Concessions over Time