Topic: Judiciary and Rule of LawPress Release: AFEC Calls to End all Criminal Defamation Cases
Published on February 1, 2006; The Alliance for Freedom of Expression in Cambodia (AFEC), a coalition of 27 member organizations, would like to express its deepest gratitude to all individuals, local and international NGOs, embassies, governments and international institutions who joined the recent struggle for Freedom of Expression in Cambodia. This timely and vehement support has constituted an effective influence on the Royal Government of Cambodia that led to the release on bail of five arrested individuals: journalist and radio manager Mam Sonando, unionist Rong Chhun and the NGO leaders Kem Sokha, Yeng Virak and Pa Nguon Teang.
AFEC regrets that the right to Freedom of Expression of civil rights activists has been violated. Therefore, AFEC welcomes that the Government withdraws its complaints against the above-mentioned persons, and urges that similar complaints against other individuals in Cambodia and abroad, namely Ear Channa, Men Nath, Chea Mony, Prince Sisowath Thomico, and Say Bory are also withdrawn. AFEC further hopes that all criminal defamation charges will be dropped speedily by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.
Published on January 26, 2006; The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), a membership-based regional organization holding a consultative status with the UN ECOSOC, and in accord with its Cambodian member organizations ADHOC and LICADHO, welcomes the resolution of IPU on Mr. Cheam Channy, Member of National Assembly of Cambodia, adopted on October 19, 2005. However, we would like to express our deep concerns and draw your attention to continuing human rights violations of Members of Parliament of Cambodia and to comment on the IPU Resolution.
Published on January 17, 2006; The Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC), a coalition of 18 NGO members, welcomes the release on bail of Mam Sonando, Rong Chhun, Kem Sokha and Pa Nguon Teang, which follows the similar release last week of Yeng Virak. We are pleased that all of them have been temporarily freed from prison and are able to be reunited with their families.
We hope that this positive and encouraging news will be followed by the withdrawal of the criminal complaints against these five men and other individuals by the government, and the dropping of all charges against them by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court. Such an action would be a further significant step toward ensuring the protection of freedom of expression, other human rights and future economic development in Cambodia.
Published on January 12, 2006; An independent United Nations body has ruled that the detention of Sam Rainsy Party MP Cheam Channy is in violation of both Cambodian and international law.
In a decision communicated to the Cambodian government on 25 November 2005 and now made public, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) found that the Cambodian Military Court had no jurisdiction over Cheam Channy, a civilian and Member of Parliament for Kampong Cham province.
Published on January 12, 2006; We, the under-signed members of Cambodian NGOs and civil society, deeply regret the arrest and detention of Cambodian Center for Human Rights president Kem Sokha, Community Legal Education Center director Yeng Virak, and Cambodian Center for Human Rights deputy president Pa Nguon Teang, on charges of defamation.
The arrests relate to the celebrations held in Phnom Penh to mark International Human Rights Day on December 10, 2005, which were attended by more than 10,000 people. This rare and important event was authorized by the government and organized by NGOs and other civil society organizations. The authorization and support for this mass gathering of people seemed to be a positive step to promote human rights in Cambodia. Therefore, we are deeply disappointed by the subsequent arrests of Kem Sokha, Yeng Virak, and Pa Nguon Teang, which have created fear within civil society and the public, restricted freedom of expression, and set back human rights in Cambodia.
Published on November 30, 2005; "(...)I urge the Royal Government of Cambodia to follow the United Nation's example and release the names of the Cambodian candidates under consideration and the selection criteria far enough in advance of the final decision. This would allow civil society organizations and international community to comment on the Cambodian candidates. By doing so, the government will improve the credibility and transparency of the selection process. Even if civil society finds no new information about the candidates, the government will strengthen public confidence in the process by allowing civil society participation. Moreover, civil society might turn up new information - after all, when looking for something, many pairs of eyes are better than one pair of eyes. This too would strengthen the selection process.(...)"
Open letter by Dr. Kek Galabru, President of LICADHO
Published on November 25, 2005; (...) Making the criteria for selection and the list of recommended candidates public prior to final appointment are important steps to increase public participation and confidence in the outcome of the tribunal. In addition, publicizing the criteria and the candidates under consideration decreases the risk that the public will view the selection process as the result of political influence. The appointment of fair, impartial, independent, and experienced judges to the Extraordinary Chambers is critical to ensuring that the Extraordinary Chambers operates independently and consistently with international standards.
Published on October 21, 2005; On 11 October, 2005 at approximately 7 am, Mr Mam Sonando, director of Beehive Radio FM 105, was removed from his house in Kean Svay Districtm Kandal Province. He was arrested without warrant by Kandal Police and was witnessed by media representatives and NGO workers.
On the same morning Mr Mam Sonando was brought before the Phnom Penh Municipal Court where he was charged with defamation under Article 63 of the UNTAC Law. The charges related to the broadcasting on 20 September 2005 of a radio interview between Mr Mam Sonando and Mr Sean Pengse, the former President of the Paris-based Cambodia's Border Committee.
Published on September 19, 2005; After receiving on 8 August 2005 the draft Law on Anti-Corruption dated 30 June 2005, civil society organizations have analyzed and found that, though the current draft has more comprehensive corruption related offence provisions than the earlier draft with a clearer role to the Secretary General to enforce the law, and includes a Chapter on international cooperation, it is necessary that some more improvements be made to the draft to meet international standards as committed by the Royal Government during the CG meeting with international donors in December 2004.
Therefore, we, the Civil Society Organizations against Corruption, would like to make some recommendations and would like to ask that the government carefully review the draft and incorporate into the draft the following important items:
Published on August 24, 2005; The members of the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC), a coalition of 18 NGO members, is concerned about the lack of information concerning the process through which judges will be selected by the Royal Government of Cambodia. The government has not released a list of the candidates to be considered, the criteria by which they will be evaluated, or information about the process and timeframe for recruitment and selection. CHRAC respectfully asks the Government's Khmer Rouge Trials Task Force to make this information public, in order to strengthen this critical process.
Published on August 17, 2005; The Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC), a coalition of 18 NGOs, would like to express its dissatisfaction with the Battambang Provincial Court for dropping charges against 128 police, military police and civilians accused of killing five villagers and injuring eight others during a forced eviction on March 21, 2005 in Kbal Spean Village, Poipet Commune, O' Chrov District, Banteay Meanchey Province. Victims sustained extensive property damage during the eviction.
Published on August 9, 2005; On Tuesday morning August 9, Military Court Judge General Nay Thol sentenced opposition Law maker Cheam Channy to 7 years Imprisonment on charges of organizing illegal armed forces and committing fraud, despite lack of credible testimony or evidence to back up charges.
LICADHO condemns the August 8 trial of Cheam Channy, a parliamentarian for the Sam Rainsy Party, which should not have been held in the Military Court. The Military Court does not have jurisdiction over civilians such as Cheam Channy. LICADHO is also deeply concerned by the grossly unfair treatment of Cheam Channy during the course of the trial.
Published on August 8, 2005; The Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC), a coalition of 18 local NGOs, closely followed the trial proceedings at the Military Court on August 8th, 2005 to try H.E. Cheam Channy, a member of parliament from the opposition party.
During the hearing, CHRAC observers noted that there was a lack of adequate evidence or credible testimonies to support the charges, of organized crime and committing fraud, against H. E. Cheam Channy by the prosecutor. CHRAC members observed many procedural violations, including the following:
Published on August 3, 2005; The Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC), a coalition of 18 NGOs, is deeply concerned by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court's guilty verdict for Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun, accused of the murder of Chea Vichea, Free Trade Union leader and Sam Rainsy Party activist. They were each sentenced to 20 years in prison and ordered to pay $5,000 compensation each to the plaintiff.
CHRAC considers the verdict, returned on August 1, 2005 by Judge Kong Set, as unfair and based on political bias rather than on independent and reasonable judgment.
Published on July 29, 2005; Civil Society Organizations are deeply concerned on the decline of the rights and function of Member of Parliament (MP) mainly the freedom of expression. Civil Society Organizations have noted that political Parties influence has been increased, mostly political leader over the MP in 1st legislation started from the parliamentary membership withdrawal of H.E.Mr. Sam Rainsy from FUNCINPEC 3 senators; H.E.Mr. Chhang Song, H.E.Mr. Phay Siphan and H.E.Mr. Pou Savath; of Cambodian People Party (CPP), and the recently attempt for parliamentary membership withdrawal of H.E.Mr. Khem Veasna from Sam Rainsy (SRP).