Abuse of the Court to Suit Political Agenda Must Cease and Charges against CNRP Members Should be Dropped

Joint Organizations

August 7, 2014 - We, the undersigned organizations, condemn the flagrant abuse of the Cambodian legal system and the trumped up charges that have been used to manipulate the outcome of political negotiations between the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) and the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), following the latest arrests of three CNRP youth members, and urges all charges to be dropped.

At 7.30am on Saturday August 2, 2014, Khin Chamreun, Chief of Phnom Penh CNRP Youths, was arrested at a restaurant in Takhmao town, and brought to Phnom Penh Municipal Police Station. Chamreun was then transferred to Phnom Penh Municipal Court before finally being detained at Prey Sar's CC1 prison at 12.10pm. Shortly after Chamreun’s detention on Saturday, police also arrested CNRP Tuol Kork District Youth Leader San Kimheng and Chbar Ampov CNRP District Youth Member, Neang Sokhun.

Chamreun was originally named in the court documents filed by case prosecutor Keo Socheat on July 16 in which he was formally accused of inciting and instigating violence, and leading an insurrectional movement. Kimheng and Sokhun are accused of acts of violence, obstructing public officials and taking part in an insurrectional movement.

The formal accusation against Chamreun also applies to the eight CNRP officials - seven of them members of parliament - who were detained for one week at Prey Sar’s CC1 and CC2 prisons following the violence that occurred at Freedom Park on July 15. The eight were released on July 22, on the day both parties reached a political agreement leading to the end of their year-long political deadlock.

The latest arrests occurred while constitutional amendments were being debated upon by both parties, during which time the eight released CNRP officials, as well as CNRP Vice-President Kem Sokha, were summonsed for further questioning on August 8-13 by Investigating Judge Keo Mony. Today’s decision by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court not to release the three youths follows the swearing in by CNRP Members of Parliament two days ago.

“From the get-go, it was clear the accusations and arrests of the CNRP members of parliament and youth leaders were purely politically motivated,” said Ee Sarom, Acting Executive Director of Sahmakum Teang Tnaut (STT).

“The court should abide by the law instead of the political agenda and release the three youth leaders as well as dropping charges against all accused CNRP members” said Yeng Virak, Executive Director of Community Legal Education Center (CLEC).

The timing of the arrests of the three CNRP youth members, along with the summonsing of the eight CNRP officials and Kem Sokha, and the hastened court proceedings that led to the prior unwarranted detention of eight other CNRP members, have been used as leverage to undermine political negotiations and avoid concrete electoral and democratic reforms in the political settlement.

“It is extremely disappointing that this opportunity for democratic and electoral reforms, presented by these negotiations has been lost, as a result of this latest abuse of the judiciary,” said LICADHO Director Naly Pilorge.

“The content of the three technical reform agreements following the deal struck on July 22 is remarkably empty of concrete processes and guarantees to secure meaningful changes that are direly needed. It is imperative that both parties begin to undertake specific actions towards reforming the irregularities that beset the 2013 elections such as the flawed voters list”, said Ny Chakriya, ADHOC Head of Monitoring.

Intimidation and repression of basic human rights such as the freedom of assembly through trumped up criminal charges must cease immediately. We demand that the three youth leaders be released and all baseless charges against all CNRP members be dropped. We urge the government to put an end to its abuse of the legal process in pursuit of any political agenda.

Banteay Srey
Boeung Kak Lake Community (BKL)
Borei Keila Community (BK)
Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Federation (BWTUC)
Cambodian Committee for Women (CAMBOW)
Cambodian Food and Service Worker Federation (CFSWF)
Cambodian Human Rights for Development Association (ADHOC)
Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO)
Cambodian Tourism and Service Workers Federation (CTSWF)
Cambodian Youth Network (CYN)
Cambodia’s Independent Civil Servants Association (CICA)
Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Community (CCFC)
Community Legal Education Centre (CLEC)
Community Peace-Building Network (CPN)
Equitable Cambodia (EC)
Housing Rights Task Force (HRTF)
Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA)
Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Election in Cambodia (NICFEC)
Sahmakum Teang Tnaut (STT)
The Cambodian NGO Committee on CEDAW (NGO-CEDAW)
Thmor Kol Community

For more information, please contact:
 Naly Pilorge, LICADHO Director, 012-803-650
 Mr Ny Chakriya, ADHOC Head of Monitoring, 011 274 959

PDF format: Download full statement in English - Download full statement in Khmer
MP3 format: Listen to audio version in Khmer