Judiciary & Rule of Law

Human Rights 2012, The Year in Review

February 18, 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, according to a new report from LICADHO.

The past year was the most violent year ever documented in terms of the authorities using lethal force against activists, according to the report, “Human Rights 2012: The Year in Review.” The year also saw four deaths related to conflicts over natural resources, a growing atmosphere of fear and intimidation and the mass arrests of activists.

2012 in Review: The Judiciary, a Useful Weapon to Silence Critics

February 14, 2013audio available

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.

Walmart and H&M Supplier Fails to Attend Conciliation with Kingsland Employees

January 18, 2013audio available

We, the undersigned members of civil society, international labor support organizations and trade unions express our extreme discontent that Kingsland factory owners have failed to attend conciliation regarding outstanding payments of almost S$200,000 owed to Kingsland employees. We further express our extreme dissatisfaction with the Ministry of Labor’s decision made on January 16, 2013, not to send the case to the Arbitration Council.

Legal Persecution of Land Rights Activists Must End and Yorm Bopha Should be Released Immediately and Unconditionally

December 27, 2012audio available

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court convicted Yorm Bopha on a trumped up charge and sentenced her to three years’ imprisonment. The charges against her and three other defendants were purportedly in connection with the beating of a suspected thief, but the real case against her is crystal clear – she, and the rest of the Boeung Kak community land activists are thorns in the side of the authorities, and they need to be silenced.

Scapegoats Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun Unjustly Back in Jail

December 27, 2012audio available

We, the undersigned organizations, condemn in the strongest terms the unexpected decision by Appeals Court Judges Chhoun Sunleng, Seng Sivutha and Khoun Leang Meng to uphold the Phnom Penh court’s grossly unfair verdict against Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun. The two were arrested by Ministry of Interior police officers in the hearing room and sent back to jail earlier this morning.

The pair, widely believed to have been framed as scapegoats for the 2004 killing of unionist Chea Vichea, had been freed in December 2008 by a courageous Supreme Court, in a decision which ordered further investigation into the killing amid extensive evidence of their innocence.

Briefing Paper
Profiles of Two Jailed Land Activists

December 20, 2012

At 2 p.m. on December 26, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court will hold trials for two human rights defenders involved in high-profile land disputes: Yorm Bopha, from the Boeung Kak community, and Tim Sakmony, from Borei Keila. The women have been in prison for over 100 days, and were recently designated Prisoners of Conscience by Amnesty International.

In anticipation of the trial, the Free the 15 coalition has produced short biographies of each woman, which detail their personal stories and their legal battles.

Attacks & Threats Against Human Rights Defenders in Cambodia 2010-2012

December 9, 2012

The climate for human rights defenders (HRDs) in Cambodia has soured dramatically since LICADHO's last HRD report in 2009, creating the country's worst human rights environment in more than a decade. Violence against activists is on the rise, key HRDs have been killed with impunity, and the courts have lost even the faintest semblance of impartiality.

The year 2012 has been particularly bad.

Statement Conclusion of Two Cases Related to Chut Wutty Slaying Leave More Questions Than Answers

October 22, 2012audio available

Timber Green employee Ran Boroath was sentenced to two years in prison today for allegedly killing the military police officer that the government claims killed environmental activist Chut Wutty.

Three-quarters of the sentence was suspended, however, and Ran Boroath is due to be released from prison within the next two weeks.

Phnom Penh Court Sentences Independent Radio Station Owner to 20 Years

October 1, 2012audio available

We, the undersigned civil society organizations, condemn the Phnom Penh Municipal Court’s shocking conviction of independent radio station owner Mam Sonando today, and the draconian 20-year sentence that he received. At age 70, Sonando is likely to die in prison if he serves his full term.

Sonando, the owner of Beehive radio, was arrested on July 12 on charges that he masterminded a so-called “secessionist movement” in Kratie. Several co-defendants were charged with organizing the movement on the ground. They were all convicted as well, though two of the previously identified “ringleaders” had their sentences suspended, echoing the Prime Minister’s public statement that those who confess would be spared punishment.

Two Days, Two Unjustified Pre-Trial Detention Order

September 6, 2012audio available

In the past three days, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court has ordered the unjustified pre-trial detention of two female land rights advocates in unrelated cases. These two incidents are the latest in a long string of incidents in which the courts have been wielded as a weapon to silence victimized communities.

The two arrested activists have long been struggling to advocate on behalf of powerless residents involved in land disputes with some of Cambodia’s most well-connected and powerful business tycoons.

Briefing The Mam Sonando Case Explained

August 30, 2012

On July 15, 2012, independent Beehive Radio station owner and director Mam Sonando was arrested on suspicion of leading an "insurrectionary movement" in Kratie province. A trial is scheduled for Sept. 11. He faces up to 30 years in prison if he is convicted of all charges.

This paper is summarizes the case and concludes that the charges against Sonando are unjustified and an attempt to suppress free speech. In the continuing absence of credible evidence, Sonando should be released immediately, and the charges against him should be dropped unconditionally.

Statement Charges Against ADHOC Staffer Mark Decade’s Most Serious Threat to Human Rights Work in Cambodia

August 15, 2012audio available

We, the undersigned civil society groups, deeply regret the Phnom Penh Municipal Court’s decision to pursue politically-motivated charges against outspoken human rights worker Chan Soveth for legitimate actions related to his work.

Briefing Paper Cambodia's Draft Law on the Management and Use of Agricultural Land

July 23, 2012

Late last year, the Cambodian government quietly released a draft Law on the Management and Use of Agricultural Land that would have serious implications for private landholders. The draft law as currently written could be used as legal cover for land-grabbing and for those who wish to exploit and personally profit from Cambodia's land and resources. Most alarmingly, the law creates felony criminal liability for any actions that violate the law's far reaching provisions. The following aspects of the draft law require immediate scrutiny and substantial revisions.

Flowers of Freedom: The Campaign to Free the 15

July 22, 2012audio available

This documentary takes a look at the recent campaign to free the 15 imprisoned Boeung Kak lake activists. The fifteen were arrested in late May 2012 during and after a peaceful protest highlighting a long-standing land dispute with Shukaku Inc. company, owned by a Cambodian ruling party senator.

One of the released activists presented this video at the fifth annual Summer Institute in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights in Singapore in July 2012.

Release Mam Sonando, Owner of Cambodia's Oldest Independent Radio Station

July 16, 2012

The undersigned organizations are deeply disturbed by independent radio station director Mam Sonando's arrest on Sunday, July 15, 2012, and call for his immediate release. Mr. Sonando, who holds both Cambodian and French citizenship, is the owner of Beehive Radio, which is among the few independent radio stations in Cambodia. Sonando is also the founder and president of the Democrat Association.