Topic: Judiciary and Rule of LawVideo: Innocent Prisoners in Cambodia Mark 1,700 Days Behind Bars
Published on September 25, 2008; September 23, 2008 marked the 1,700th day that Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun have spent in prison for a crime they did not commit. Over 70 family, friends and supporters gathered outside of PJ prison in a show of solidarity to release balloons to mark the 1,700th day in prison for the two men.
Published on September 23, 2008; Today marks the 1,700th day that Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun have spent in prison for a crime they did not commit.
Despite overwhelming evidence of their innocence, the two men continue to serve 20-year prison sentences for the murder of trade union leader Chea Vichea. They remain in Phnom Penh’s PJ prison, where they have been since their arrests on January 28, 2004.
“After more than four years and seven months in prison, it is long overdue that the gross injustice done to Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun be ended and that they be released,” said LICADHO director Naly Pilorge.
Published on March 27, 2008; The Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC), a coalition of 21 NGO members, the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (CMFREL) and the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (NICFEC) are very concerned over the ongoing politically motivated arrests by using court system as a political tool for intimidation, amid the forthcoming national elections to be held on 27 July 2008.
On 18 March 2008 at around 9 am, Mr. Tuot Sarorn, Tuol Pong Ro Commune Chief, Baray district, Kampong Thom province was arrested by a group of police officers led by Baray District Police Inspector without an arrest warrant although police officials affirmed that the arrest was based on a warrant issued by the Kampong Thom provincial court.
On 19 March 2008, Mr. Tout Sarorn was sent to Kampong Thom provincial police commissariat and to the court. Additionally, three other members of Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) Mr. Thorn Rithy (Deputy Chief of SRP Kampong Thom provincial office), Mr. Men Vannak and Mr. Hour Sarak, are also searched for arrest.
Published on February 19, 2008; Two international human rights organizations and two Cambodian NGOs called today upon Cambodian authorities to take effective measures to combat the practice of forced evictions which constitutes a flagrant violation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and other international human rights instruments that the Kingdom of Cambodia has ratified.
The call was made by the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders - a joint programme of International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) - along with the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC) and the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO).
Published on January 28, 2008; Today, the 28th of January, 2008, marks the fourth year of imprisonment of Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeum who were wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for the murder of Chea Vichea, President of the Free Trade Union of the Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia. As of today the two men have served a total of 1,461 days in prison.
Published on January 27, 2008; As of tomorrow, January 28, Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun will have spent four years in prison - a total of 1,461 days - since their initial arrests in 2004. They are serving 20-year prison sentences after they were convicted of Chea Vichea’s murder in a grossly unfair trial.
The denial of justice to the family of Chea Vichea, and the continued imprisonment of Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun despite overwhelming evidence of their innocence, reflects poorly on the state of rule of law in Cambodia. The longer that this situation continues, the greater the injustice suffered by these individuals, and the greater the damage done to the reputation of Cambodia's justice system.
We appeal once more for the immediate release of Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun from prison, which is essential to begin to restore some level of justice in this case.
Published on December 13, 2007; The independence of the legal profession faces a serious threat due to attempts by the Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia to limit the freedom of Cambodian lawyers to work for non-government organizations (NGOs). At stake is the future of legal aid services in the country, and whether NGOs are free to employ lawyers to represent Cambodia's poorest and most vulnerable citizens in court cases.
Over past months, the Bar Association ("the Bar") has taken a position that lawyers cannot work as employees of an NGO unless that NGO has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Bar.
The Bar's assertions have no basis in Cambodia law, which does not require any such MOUs.
Published on December 6, 2007; The Cambodian justice system has failed. Despite the UNTAC intervention and 15 years of aid to legal and judicial reform, in 2007 the primary functions of the courts continue to be to:1/ Persecute political opponents and other critics of the government, 2/ Perpetuate impunity for state actors and their associates, 3/ Protect the economic interests of the rich and powerful
This report examines the performance of the Cambodian judiciary since the Consultative Group (CG) donor meeting of 2-3 March 2006. It seeks to point out patterns in injustice and impunity, highlight the Cambodian government’s ongoing lack of tangible action to promote rule of law, and to urge the international community to revise its strategies in assistance to legal and judicial reform.
Published on October 25, 2007; The Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO) deplores the prison sentence given this week to a community representative involved in a long-running land dispute in Siem Reap.
Despite an overwhelmingly lack of evidence against her, 24-year-old So Socheat was convicted in the Siem Reap Provincial Court on October 22 of committing battery with injury and destruction of private property. Judge Kun Sokhal sentenced her to eight months in prison and a 500,000 riel (US$125) fine.
Although Socheat was accused of assaulting a police officer, the only evidence of battery with injury presented to the court was the opposite - that police officers had in fact beaten Socheat.
Published on October 8, 2007; The Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO) is appalled by the weak prison sentence given today by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) colonel Chhor Dara. Arrested for attempted murder, the court's ruling in effect allows Chhor Dara to walk free from jail.
On the night of March 14th, 2007, the victim Chem Sopheap accompanied Pen Roathet, Chhor Dara's estranged wife, to a restaurant with a group of friends including one man. The next day, a jealous Chhor Dara attacked Chem Sopheap, accusing her of bringing his wife to see another man. He beat her and allegedly fired a gunshot which grazed her head during the attack.
Published on July 27, 2007; At a time when the incidence of land grabbing is becoming more frequent in Cambodia and impunity for this crime is increasing for individuals with connections, wealth and power, three villagers are suffering from the results of such an unjust system. Initially, these villagers had been victims of a land grabbing dispute, however by the time their trial was over, they had been handed a six-month suspended prison sentence, lost their farming land, and had been ordered to pay a fine of 1.5 million Riel (USD $375). These villagers have now lost the ability to provide for their families and to even pay the exorbitant fine, now that their land has been unjustly taken from them.
Published on July 10, 2007; On the morning of April 20, 2007, 13 residents from Village 6 in Sihanoukville's Mittapheap district were arrested after they tried to defend their homes against the onslaught of 150 police attempting to evict them and 105 other families. On Tuesday July 3, 2007, the 13 appeared before the Sihanoukville Municipal Court for their trial; the next day five were acquitted and nine were convicted (one in absentia).
Published on June 26, 2007; For more than a decade Cambodia has failed to honor its obligations to prevent and punish the use of torture, and strong action is needed to tackle the widespread practice, according to LICADHO.
"Torture is committed every day in Cambodia, and most torturers are not punished in any way," LICADHO president Kek Galabru said on June 26, the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. "Cambodia is blatantly violating its obligations under international and domestic laws, and it is time that the government, police and courts took real action to stop the barbaric practice of torture."
Cambodia ratified the UN Convention Against Torture in 1992 but has failed to properly implement it. Early this year, the government also signed on to an additional international human rights treaty, the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture, which contains further obligations to prevent torture.
Published on June 21, 2007; Eight foreign nationals were detained by Cambodian immigration police on Tuesday, June 19th, for more than nine hours after gathering to publicly appeal for justice for Born Samnang and Sok Sam Ouen. These two men, who are currently serving a 20-year prison sentence, are widely believed to have been wrongly convicted of murdering trade union leader Chea Vichea in January 2004.
Published on June 19, 2007; The assassination of trade unionist Chea Vichea and the convictions of Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun represent the most glaring example of impunity and miscarriage of justice in Cambodia today. There is overwhelming evidence that the two convicted men, now serving 20-year prison terms, were deliberately targeted as scapegoats for the murder. Cambodia's justice system has not only failed them, but has actively perpetrated the injustice against them. This case highlights the grave deficiencies of Cambodia's judiciary - particularly its lack of independence and impartiality - and casts undeniable doubt upon the government's stated commitment to rule of law. The release of Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun from prison is essential if the justice system is ever to have any credibility.