Judiciary & Rule of LawBriefing Paper In Absentia 2012: An Update on Cambodia's Inmate Transportation Crisis & The Right to Appeal
April 23, 2012
In 2010, LICADHO reported on an epidemic of in absentia criminal appeals trials in Cambodia. Hundreds of inmates were stranded in provincial prisons, unable to attend their hearings in Phnom Penh due to lack of transportation funding, poor organization between the prisons and courts and, more generally, an indifference to their plight. Two years later, the problem remains unaddressed.
As of February 2012, nearly 800 inmates with pending appeals were held in 11 provincial prisons surveyed by LICADHO. As was the case in 2010, the General Department of Prisons (GDP) still has no means to transport these prisoners to their appeal hearings in Phnom Penh. The prison system lacks the vehicles, gasoline, staffing and funding necessary for a comprehensive long-distance inmate transportation network. This report examines the scope of the problem and possible solutions
March 22, 2012
This week marks the two year anniversary of the UN Human Rights Council's adoption of Cambodia's Universal Period Review (UPR) outcome report. Remarkably, during the UPR, Cambodia accepted all 91 recommendations presented by dozens of countries on a wide range of human rights issues. Since then, the government has tasked the Cambodian Human Rights Committee (CHRC) with coordinating Cambodia's response - a process which has amounted to little, if any, meaningful implementation of the recommendations by relevant state institutions.
After two years of ignoring the substance of the majority of those recommendations, and two years of an ever deteriorating human rights landscape, the Cambodian government owes the UPR delegates and Working Group, and most of all its own citizens, an explanation.
March 15, 2012
We, the undersigned groups and individual members of civil society, are calling for justice to be served in accordance with the rule of law, with regard to the brutal shootings of three young Cambodian female workers - Buon Chinda, Keo Nei and Nuth Sakhorn - on Feb. 20, 2012, in Svay Rieng's Bavet district.
Many Cambodian garment workers already live a life of hardship, suffering, poverty and uncertainty. As such, the workers should receive protection and support from the State, not face further victimization through brutal acts of violence.
February 21, 2012
After years of blatant impunity for similar crimes, the latest shooting of three young women while protesting for better working conditions in Svay Rieng province comes as little surprise. Gun violence directed at unarmed protestors has been on the rise recently throughout Cambodia.
"This latest shooting appears to be a clear-cut case of attempted murder," said Am Sam Ath, from LICADHO. "Reports indicate that the gunman shot directly at the protesting workers. There can be no question that such actions constitute premeditation and an intent to kill under the Penal Code."
December 22, 2011
Donors, who provide approximately half of Cambodia's national budget, should make clear to the Cambodian government that the fourth draft of the Law on Associations and NGOs (LANGO) must be revised to protect civil society or be withdrawn, a group of concerned international human rights organizations said today. Any revisions should involve meaningful consultation with civil society organizations and aim to support their activities instead of creating a legal framework allowing for arbitrary closure of organizations or the denial of registration.
December 20, 2011
On the morning of December 20, 2011, at 8:30 AM, over 100 Cambodian citizens from Phnom Penh and 23 provinces peacefully unrolled a 230 meter long blue kramar petition in front of the National Assembly. The petition addressed in Khmer to the Royal Government of Cambodia from the citizens of Cambodia calls on the government to: '... halt its intention of passing the Law on Associations and Non governmental Organizations, the Law on Trades Union and the Law on Farmers' Cooperative which restrict the basic rights and freedoms of Cambodian citizens."
December 20, 2011
LICADHO condemns the National Assembly for its decision today to lift the parliamentary immunity of opposition party lawmaker Chan Cheng.
The vote, which took place Tuesday morning, was a politically-motivated attack against Cheng, who is a member of the opposition Sam Rainsy Party (SRP)representing Kandal Province.
"Cambodia's democracy is already foundering, and this brings the system one step closer to becoming a total farce," said LICADHO's Director, Naly Pilorge. "The suspension of Chan Cheng's immunity renders the concept of parliamentary immunity meaningless. This is yet another disgrace for Cambodia's democracy."
The National Assembly is dominated by the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) and has previously stripped the immunity of opposition politicians under dubious circumstances.
December 15, 2011
On Dec. 12, 2011, the Royal Cambodian Government released the fourth draft of its proposed Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations (LANGO). The release comes almost exactly one year after the first draft was introduced in mid-December 2010.
The contents of the three earlier drafts provoked extensive criticism from local and international civil society organizations, donor governments, and legal analysts. Twice previously the government has acknowledged these criticisms and promised to come up with a better draft. Twice previously they have failed.
With the fourth draft, they have failed again.
November 29, 2011
We, the undersigned civil society organizations, deeply regret the Phnom Penh authorities' decision to bring criminal charges against four Boeung Kak Lake residents following their participation in a protest on Nov. 28.
We do, however, commend Investigating Judge Chhay Virak's decision to release the accused under court supervision today.
The four female activists - Tep Vanny, Bo Chhorvy, Heng Mom and Kong Chantha - appeared before the Phnom Penh Municipal Court today, and were charged with insult and obstruction of public officials, respectively, under articles 502 and 504 of the new penal code. If tried and found guilty, they face up to one year in prison and fines of up to 2 million riel.
October 26, 2011
Since 2008, the Cambodian government has embarked upon a furious campaign to propose and enact a wide range of new laws. While this new legislation is typically touted as evidence of Cambodiaâ€™s progress toward the rule of law, a new LICADHO report has found that in many cases, it actually marks the opposite.
In the report, â€œThe Delusion of Progress: Cambodiaâ€™s Legislative Assault on Expressive Rights,â€ LICADHO analyzes five key laws proposed or enacted since 2008: the Penal Code, the Anti-Corruption Law, the Law on Associations and NGOs, the Law on Peaceful Assembly, and the Law on Unions of Enterprises. Overall, the analysis reveals several disturbing trends: Legislation is littered with improper restrictions on freedom of expression, provisions are misapplied, and vast sections are deliberately drafted to be used as weapons against those who speak out against the political and financial elite.
October 19, 2011
A draft prison law which is set to go before the National Assembly is a positive step for Cambodia's prison system, but falls short of fully protecting prisoners' rights in several key respects.
The draft law's shortcomings are detailed in a new briefing paper from the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO). The paper also highlights a handful of the law's positive provisions.
September 9, 2011
CCHR, LICADHO and CLEC condemn efforts on the part of Kampong Thom province and Sandan district officials to impose conditions on human rights activities above and beyond that provided for in law. Such conditions have no basis in law and any attempts to impose such conditions are in flagrant disregard of the human rights of the people of Kampong Thom province as well as others who travel to that province to participate in activities in the promotion and protection of human rights.
On the afternoon of 7 September 2011, representatives from CCHR, LICADHO and CLEC as well as the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN OHCHR) Cambodia attended a meeting with district officials in Sandan district, Kampong Thom province. The meeting was called after a training event organized by CCHR and the Natural Resource Protection Group (NRPG) was disrupted by officials accompanied by armed police.
August 21, 2011
We, representatives of the undersigned members of civil society and private sector groups, support national development that is equitable, inclusive, and sustainable. We believe national development should contribute not only to the growth of commerce and industry but also to the welfare of the wider population. Civil society actors, both local and foreign, play a vital role in this development through monitoring, community development, poverty alleviation, humanitarianism, research, and advocacy. In promoting equitable development and good governance, we also have a right and a responsibility to speak out when development projects have harmful effects.
We condemn the suspension of STT in the strongest possible terms. The suspension of STT is completely arbitrary and a violation of the constitutional right to freedom of expression and association, and an assault on human rights defenders. We demand its immediate reversal. We regard this act to silence STT as an act of oppression against us all. The use of a vague administrative technicality to suspend an organization is an alarmingly clear sign of how the Cambodian government intends to use the Law on Associations and Non Governmental Organizations (LANGO) to curb the activities of all associations and NGOs that advocate for the rights of marginalized groups within Cambodian society.
August 1, 2011
On July 29, 2011, the government released a third draft of its widely criticized Law on Associations and on-Governmental Organizations (NGO Law), once again claiming that the newest draft addresses the litany of concerns that have been raised by civil society. One needs look no further than the first chapter of the law, however, to discredit the government's reassurances. Registration is still mandatory, meaning Cambodians cannot exercise their fundamental rights of assembly, expression and association without navigating complex registration procedures and securing the blessing of government officials, who would be given absolute power to create or dissolve civil society groups.
The majority of LICADHO's comments in its briefing papers discussing the first and second drafts of the law are still relevant. As with the second draft, the remaining changes in the third draft are almost entirely cosmetic. The third draft does, however, make one significant improvement in that it expressly mentions a right to appeal a denial of registration. This welcome addition is not without its own issues - namely the lack of a timeline and legal standards for assessing an appeal - but it is an important reflection of the impact that advocacy efforts have had to date.
July 14, 2011
The Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO) strongly denounces the Appeals Court's decision to uphold Leang Sokchouen's two-year prison sentence and to change the conviction using legal provisions that were non-existent at the time of the alleged offense.
On August 30, 2010, the Takeo provincial court sentenced Sokchouen to two years in prison on charges of disinformation. The prosecution did not present any in-court witness testimonies or credible evidence. The trial judge only relied on written statements by four dubious witness statements from police officers, ignoring in-court testimony in favor of Sokchouen's innocence.
On Thursday, July 14, 2011, the Appeals Court judge Pol Sam Oeun issued a verdict upholding the lower court's verdict against Sokchouen after a two-hour long trial that took place on June 30, 2011, which failed to present any evidence of Sokchouen's guilt.