Topic

Judiciary & Rule of Law

Briefing Paper Comments on the Second Draft Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations of the Kingdom of Cambodia

April 5, 2011

The International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL) is an international organization that provides technical assistance, research, and education to support the development of appropriate laws and regulatory systems for civil society in countries around the world. ICNL has worked on civil society law reform projects in over one hundred countries; in Asia, ICNL has worked in China, Timor-Leste, Indonesia, Lao P.D.R., Mongolia and Vietnam. ICNL has worked with the United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Volunteers, the Community of Democracies Working Group on Enabling and Protecting Civil Society, the European Union, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the United States Agency for International Development, New Zealand AID, the Swedish International Development Agency, human rights groups, private foundations, and scores of in-country colleagues.

Document International Non-Governmental Organizations: Concerns Regarding Draft Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations

April 1, 2011

Recognizing the importance that the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) has placed on strengthening institutions of governance and implementing reforms aimed at ensuring sustainable development and long-term poverty reduction; and the commitment to strong cooperation among all ministries and agencies, development partners, the private sector, civil society organizations, and other relevant stakeholders embodied in key policy documents such as the "National Strategic Development Plan" and the "Rectangular Strategy"; the INGO community has been a dedicated partner in Cambodia's development efforts for decades. As the 2009 National Strategic Development Plan Update notes, "Civil society is an important partner and many NGOs, both national and international, play an active and vigilant role in social and economic development efforts as well as in promotion of democracy and human rights."

Statement Second Draft of NGO Law Falls Short on Fundamental Rights

March 31, 2011

Phnom Penh - The second draft of the proposed Association & NGO law (NGO Law) is not significantly different from the first draft, and remains the most serious threat to civil society in Cambodia today, according to a new briefing paper from LICADHO.

The first draft of the law, released on Dec. 15, 2010, was widely condemned by civil society and international observers as an assault on Cambodians' right to freedom of association, assembly and expression. The second draft, released by the Ministry of Interior on March 24, does nothing to assuage these fears.

Registration is still mandatory for all NGOs and Associations (Article 6). Nonregistered groups are banned from operating. Key provisions are vague and open to arbitrary interpretation. And in many circumstances, the government has carte blanche to shut organizations down without appeal (Article 18 was removed from second draft).

Briefing Paper Draft Law on Associations & NGOs: An Updated Analysis of The Second Draft

March 31, 2011

The recently-released draft Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations confirms long-standing fears that the government's desire for such a law is in order to control, rather than promote and strengthen, civil society. The draft law - which falls far short of meeting international standards for laws on the nonprofit sector - constitutes the most serious threat to civil society in Cambodia in years. While this threat may appear to be most acute for human rights defenders, it has serious negative implications for community development and democratic participation on a broader scale.

Upon cursory examination, the draft law might appear to be positive in that it omits some draconian provisions which had been mooted by the government in the past. However, the law remains - in letter and in spirit - extremely pernicious to civil society.

Statement Civil Society Welcomes Release of Thach Saveth

March 2, 2011

We, the undersigned civil society organizations, commend the Supreme Court's decision today to release Thach Saveth, who was wrongly convicted of murdering union leader Ros Sovannareth in 2004.

The Supreme Court overturned Thach Saveth's conviction and ordered him released on bail pending a reinvestigation of the case. Thach Saveth was originally convicted in February 2005 and sentenced to 15 years in prison. His conviction was then upheld by the appeal court in February 2009.

Statement Civil Society Condemns Conviction of Human Rights Defenders Involved in Kampong Chhnang Land Dispute, Cambodia

January 27, 2011

We, the undersigned members of civil society, deeply regret the conviction on defamation charges of community representative Reach Seima and ADHOC staff member Sam Chankea, following their work to help the victims of a land-grab in Kampong Chhnang province. The verdict is a setback for freedom of expression, and represents yet another instance where the Cambodian judiciary has been misused to punish a human rights defender who dared to publicly demand justice for victims of human rights abuses.

Sam Chankea, ADHOC's Kampong Chhnang provincial coordinator, was convicted and sentenced by the court on January 25, 2011. The court ordered him to pay a 1 million riel fine and an additional 3 million riel in compensation to the plaintiff, the K.D.C. International Company. Last week, the same provincial court also sentenced community representative Reach Seima, who was a victim of land grabbing by the same company. He was also convicted of defamation and sentenced to pay a 2 million riel of fine and an additional 8 million riel of compensation. He faces 6 months in prison if he cannot pay.

Statement Crackdown on Freedom of Expression: Man Sent to Jail after Sharing Website Material

December 20, 2010

The Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO) condemns the groundless conviction of United Nations' World Food Program national staff Seng Kunnaka by the Phnom Penh court on Sunday morning, December 20, 2010.

Seng Kunnaka was arrested on Friday before noon by the Russei Keo district police. The arrest occured after Kunnaka printed and shared material found on the website ki-media, an online blog dedicated to aggregating news articles and opinions on Cambodia including material critical of its government.

Statement New Penal Code a Setback for Freedom of Expression Issues

December 9, 2010

In summer 2010, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay provoked strong condemnation from the Cambodian government when she criticized the judiciary's and ling of cases involving opposition politicians Mu Sochua and Sam Rainsy.

As of Dec. 10, 2010, the same criticism could make her a criminal in Cambodia.

Under Article 523 of the Penal Code, which comes into effect tomorrow, any person who criticizes a "judicial act or decision" aiming to "endanger Cambodian institutions" can be sentenced to up to six months imprisonment and 1 million riel fine.

The provision is one among several problematic provisions highlighted by LICADHO in a brief analysis of new penal code sections which may potentially affect freedom of expression in Cambodia. The nalysis is being released to mark the official enactment of the code, which coincidentally falls on International Human Rights Day.

Briefing Paper Draft Law on Associations & NGOs: Cambodian Civil Society under Threat

December 4, 2010

The recently-released draft Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations confirms long-standing fears that the government's desire for such a law is in order to control, rather than promote and strengthen, civil society. The draft law - which falls far short of meeting international standards for laws on the non-profit sector - constitutes the most serious threat to civil society in Cambodia in years. While this threat may appear to be most acute for human rights defenders, it has serious negative implications for community development and democratic participation on a broader scale.

Upon cursory examination, the draft law might appear to be positive in that it omits some draconian provisions which had been mooted by the government in the past. However, the law remains - in letter and in spirit - extremely pernicious to civil society.

Statement Intimidation and Legal Threats Against Union Workers and Leaders Must Cease

September 21, 2010

We, the undersigned organizations, are deeply disappointed with the government’s actions to intimidate and threaten workers and union members who have joined the four-day-garment strike from September 13-16, 2010.

The government’s response to this entirely legal - and long-declared - strike has included attacks on protesters, legal threats against organizers, and the court-sponsored retaliation against union members. This must stop immediately if the two sides are to reach an agreement during upcoming talks on September 27.

Thousands of workers from the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Unions (C-CAWDU), the National Independent Federation of Textile Unions of Cambodia (NIFTUC) and 13 other unions took part in a peaceful strike to demand an increase in the current wage to meet minimum living standards.

Statement LICADHO Staff Convicted of Disinformation after Show Trial

September 2, 2010

The Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO) condemns the conviction on disinformation charges of LICADHO employee Mr. Leang Sokchouen. This politically-motivated decision has no basis in fact or law, and underscores the dire state of Cambodia’s judiciary. The disproportionate two-year prison sentence also sends a disturbing message to members of Cambodian civil society.

Sokchouen was accused of distributing anti-government fliers in Takeo Province on January 4, 2010. Sokchouen was a longtime acquaintance of co-defendant Tach Khong Phoung, but consistently testified that he had no knowledge on the flier incident. The so-called evidence provided by the police against Sokchouen consisted of a simple list of phone numbers claiming Sokchouen and Tach Khong Phoung had called each other.

Briefing Paper The Role of the Cambodian Judiciary in Political Cases

September 2, 2010

On Saturday, May 29, 2010, at 6:15 a.m., Mr. Leang Sokchouen, an employee of LICADHO, was arrested at his home in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district by police officers from the Internal Security Department of the Ministry of Interior. Subsequent to his arrest, Mr. Sokchouen was transferred to the Headquarters of the National Police Commissioner in Phnom Penh, where he was held incommunicado for more than 33 hours, despite repeated requests by family and his lawyer to be able to access him.

Cambodia is State party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Article 9 (1) of the ICCPR reads as follows:

"Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as established by law."

The Human Rights Committee, the treaty body which is tasked with monitoring the State parties'' performance under the ICCPR, has stated that deprivations of liberty must in all cases be carried out in accordance with domestic legislation (principle of legality). More importantly, the Committee has held that deprivations of liberty must not be arbitrary, clarifying that "arbitrariness is not to be equated with against the law, but must be interpreted more broadly to include elements of inappropriateness, injustice, lack of predictability and due process of law."

Leang Sokchouen's arrest and remand in custody by the Cambodian judiciary bears all the hallmarks of inappropriateness, injustice, lack of predictability and due process outlined by the Human Rights Committee. These violations are characteristic of political systems that fail to genuinely implement basic principles of the rule of law.

Statement Civil Society Condemn Judicial Tactics Used Against Community Representatives in Kompong Speu

March 25, 2010

We, the undersigned civil society organizations, condemn the Kompong Speu Provincial Court’s decision yesterday to arrest and detain two community representatives involved in the ongoing Omlaing Commune land dispute. The bogus charges against the two community representatives constitute yet another instance of Cambodia’s rich and powerful using the judicial system as a tool of enrichment and weapon of intimidation. We also condemn the response of mixed police forces to the villagers who came to the provincial court to show their support.

Omlaing Commune Council member You Thou and community leader Khem Vuthy were arrested on charges that they incited villagers to burn two temporary shelters used by construction workers belonging to Ly Yong Phat’s Phnom Penh Sugar Company. The two representatives also stand accused of colluding to set the structures on fire.

Statement Joint Statement by Coalition of Cambodian Civil Society Organizations on Draft Anti-Corruption Law

March 11, 2010

Although the Coalition of Cambodian Civil Society Organizations (hereafter “the Coalition”),comprised of more than 200 local NGOs and Associations, only received a copy of the current Draft of the Anti-Corruption Law “hereafter “the Draft” at the last minute, the Coalition have made a concerted effort to provide several key comments on the Draft in its previous joint statement issued on March 09, 2010 on the eve of the National Assembly Session convened to debate the Law.

The joint and several efforts of the Coalition are aimed at ensuring that the proposed law is good and that it is able to adequately serve Cambodian society and the people well into the new decade through various radio talk shows, press conferences, and the submission of a letter attached to our previous joint statement, requested that the parliamentary debate and adoption of the draft law be deferred until a later date to allow for more time and scope for public input into the discussion now before the National Assembly.

Article Acid Attacks in Cambodia Continue to go Unchecked

January 29, 2010

Acid attacks have become an increasingly common form of violence in Cambodia in recent years. This particularly vicious method of attack is generally directed against women, often by their own husbands, or the wives of their lovers, with the most common motive being jealousy or revenge for perceived infidelities. There are, however, countless other motives for such attacks, with male and female perpetrators and victims. The attacks are almost always premeditated, as the perpetrators must take the time to acquire caustic acids. Unfortunately, these chemicals are typically inexpensive and readily available on the open market. Acid is very popular weapon given that it almost invisible to the police and the public.

Prison Population Watch
13,504 Occupancy Rate: ↗161%

Click here for the latest report on prison overcrowding
Monthly population figures as of November 30, 2014, from the 18 prisons monitored by LICADHO

The Great Cambodian Giveaway

Visualizing Land Concessions over Time