Judiciary & Rule of LawBriefing 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.
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.
October 22, 2012
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.
October 1, 2012
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.
September 6, 2012
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.
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.
August 15, 2012
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.
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.
July 22, 2012
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.
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.
June 27, 2012
We, the above organizations, welcome the release today of the 13 jailed Boeung Kak (BK) representatives but strongly condemn police violence against BK residents trying to reach the appeal court and regret that the convictions against the 13 were upheld despite the government's failure, again, to present any evidence of the alleged crimes.
May 30, 2012
We, Cambodian and International civil society organizations represented in this statement, condemn the use of armed force and escalating violence against citizens peacefully defending their land, labor and natural resources rights. We are referring to not only the events earlier last week on 22nd May, when dozens of peaceful Boeung Kak Lake (BKL) protesters were violently dispersed and two days later when fifteen (fourteen women and one male) BKL residents were sent to Prey Sar prison and charged and convicted of unfounded criminal offenses, but also the recent shooting incidents-the killings of environmental activist Chut Wutty in Koh Kong province and 14-year old girl Heng Chantha in Kratie province, and the shooting of three young women protesting for better working conditions in Svay Rieng province. These incidents are particularly disturbing because they indicate an increasing readiness on the part of security and military forces to use lethal force against civilians.
May 25, 2012
The Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO) denounces this morning's decision by the Phnom Penh Supreme Court to uphold Leang Sokchouen's groundless conviction and two-year prison sentence.
May 24, 2012
Shortly after a joint statement condemning the violent and arbitrary arrest of 13 women from the Boeung Kak community, Housing Rights Task Force (HRTF), Sahmakum Teang Tnaut (STT), Equitable Cambodia, Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO), Community Legal Education Center (CLEC), Inclusive Development International (IDI), and Licadho Canada express their outrage at the baseless criminal convictions of the women and the utter travesty of justice that occurred today.
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