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Cambodia

    November 26, 2013

    Yorm Bopha has been released from prison in Cambodia!

    Just days after being reunited with her family and community, she told to Amnesty International: “Thank you to Amnesty International's supporters! Your campaign has been successful, as my release shows! But my case is not over yet. Please keep pushing the Cambodian government to end the case against me. And please keep supporting me, my community and others in Cambodia! We can achieve the most success when we all work together!"

    A 30-year old mother of one, Yorm Bopha has been imprisoned since her arrest in September 2012 on accusations of planning an assault on two men. She was convicted in December last year for “intentional violence with aggravating circumstances”, despite no evidence against her and inconsistent witness testimonies.

    November 22, 2013

    The provisional release of housing rights activist Yorm Bopha is a great relief both for her family and community but does not go far enough, Amnesty International said, after Cambodia’s Supreme Court today released her on bail and sent her case back to the Appeals Court.

    “Yorm Bopha’s release is good news, but it is disappointing that her conviction still stands and the case is not over,” said Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Researcher on Cambodia who attended today’s appeal hearing.

    “She should never have been imprisoned, locked up and separated from her young son and family,” he added.

    Amnesty International designated Yorm Bopha a prisoner of conscience, having determined that the real reason for her imprisonment was her human rights activism. She had been defending her community’s rights at the former Boeung Kak Lake in the capital Phnom Penh, where thousands of people have been forcibly evicted since 2007.

    September 25, 2013

    The acquittal and imminent release of two men wrongly convicted for the killing of a trade union leader is a major step towards justice in Cambodia, Amnesty International said.

    Following a grossly unfair trial, Born Samnang, 32, and Sok Sam Oeun, 45, were sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2005 after being convicted of the murder of trade union leader Chea Vichea the year before. They are due to be released on 26 September after a Supreme Court decision to acquit them of the charges.

    “Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun were nothing but scapegoats, framed by the Cambodian authorities over the killing of trade union leader Chea Vichea. The question that remains now is: when will his real killers be brought to justice?” said Isabelle Arradon, Asia-Pacific Deputy Director at Amnesty International.

    The Supreme Court judge who issued the decision to release the men said there was a lack of clear evidence against them, that the accused had credible alibis for when the crime was committed and that one of them had allegedly been coerced by police into confessing to the crime, among other reasons.

    September 22, 2013

    Cambodia’s caretaker government should publicly affirm its commitment to respecting the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, Amnesty International said, after security forces dispersed a peaceful gathering in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh.

    On the evening of 20 September 2013, more than 100 security personnel in riot gear broke up a peaceful meeting of around 30 people including monks who had gathered for a few hours at a public park around a temple, Wat Phnom, to support a hunger strike by opposition activist Prince Sisowath Thomico.

    The group left without resisting the security forces, and no injuries were reported. Some of the monks were taken in a truck by military police back to their pagodas. One person was detained briefly and questioned, but later released.

    “This was a peaceful assembly - it is very difficult to understand why the authorities are resorting to such a show of force, particularly at this fragile, unpredictable time,” said Isabelle Arradon, Amnesty International’s Deputy AsiaPacific Director.

    September 16, 2013

    Cambodian authorities must urgently investigate the killing of one man and severe injuries to several others after security forces used live ammunition at a protest, Amnesty International said in a public statement issued today.

    Violent clashes erupted yesterday evening, 15 September 2013, in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh as dozens were protesting police roadblocks. Security forces fired tear gas canisters and live rounds of ammunition, leaving one man dead.

    “There must be an immediate and impartial investigation into the killing of this man, and full disclosure about why the security forces resorted to lethal force yesterday,” said Isabelle Arradon, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia-Pacific Director.

    “The atmosphere in Cambodia has been tense since the disputed election in July. The use of live ammunition last night has terrified residents.”

    “Security forces must refrain from any use of excessive force, which is contrary to international standards. The intentional lethal use of firearms can only be justified if it is strictly unavoidable in order to protect life.”

    September 03, 2013

    Cambodian human rights defender Yorm Bopha, imprisoned on spurious grounds last year, must be released immediately, Amnesty International said ahead of the one-year anniversary of her arrest.

    Yorm Bopha, a 30-year old mother of one who has defended her community’s housing rights, was arrested on 4 September 2012 and sentenced to three years’ imprisonment after an unfair trial in December last year.

    “Yorm Bopha is a prisoner of conscience, jailed for her peaceful activism and defending the rights of those in her community who lost their homes through forced evictions,” said Isabelle Arradon, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.

    “She should be released immediately and unconditionally.”

    Cambodia is in the midst of a tense political standoff following the country’s disputed elections on 28 July 2013, with both the ruling Cambodian People’s Party and opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party claiming victory.

    “Yorm Bopha must not be forgotten during the current political deadlock,” said Arradon.

    August 09, 2013

    With the potential for mass demonstrations rising following Cambodia’s disputed election and the government moving hundreds of security forces into Phnom Penh, Amnesty International is calling for Cambodian authorities and other political leaders to prevent violence.

    “Cambodian authorities and other political leaders in Cambodia must ensure that the post-election tension does not erupt into violence,” said Isabelle Arradon, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.

    “Many Cambodians have called for changes – political leaders should do all they can to ensure that these are achieved peacefully and with full respect for human rights,” she said.

    June 03, 2013

    The Cambodian authorities must release housing rights activist Yorm Bopha who was imprisoned after an unfair trial, Amnesty International said ahead of her appeal hearing this week.

    On 27 December 2012, the Municipal Court in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh convicted Yorm Bopha, 31, for “intentional violence with aggravating circumstances”, sentencing her to three years’ imprisonment.

    She was accused of planning an assault on two men in August 2012. But during the trial witness testimonies were inconsistent, sometimes conflicting with each other, and some witnesses admitted to being intoxicated when the alleged crime occurred.

    “The lack of credible evidence against Yorm Bopha suggests that the charges were baseless and she should not have been convicted. Yorm Bopha should be released immediately and unconditionally,” said Isabelle Arradon, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.

    ”Yorm Bopha is one of an increasing number of Cambodian human rights defenders who have faced harassment, spurious legal action and violence over the past year.”

    May 01, 2013

    Two men wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for the killing of prominent trade union leader Chea Vichea in 2004 should be released immediately, Amnesty International said today, on International Labour Day.

    Following an unfair trial, Born Samnang, 32, and Sok Sam Oeun, 45, were sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2005 after being convicted for the murder a year earlier of Chea Vichea, the president of Cambodia’s Free Trade Union (FTU).

    After a campaign by human rights groups, the Supreme Court released the two men on bail on 31 December 2008 and ordered a retrial. But on 27 December 2012, four years after their provisional release, the Appeals Court upheld the original verdict and sent the pair back to prison, despite any new evidence being presented. They have appealed this latest decision.

    “Considering the seriously flawed criminal investigation, grossly unfair trial and lack of evidence, these two men should never have been convicted in the first place,” said Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s researcher on Cambodia, Laos and Viet Nam.

    April 29, 2013
    Prisoner of conscience Mam Sonando has walked free from trumped-up charges designed to silence the Cambodian journalist. Mam Sonado is free thanks to you!

    Cambodia’s appeals court overturned the most serious anti-state convictions and the twenty year sentence against him, and suspended his remaining sentence.

    Amnesty International met with Mam Sonando in Phnom Penh, and he asked we share his thanks with Amnesty supporters:
     

     "To hear supporters outside the courtroom and to see supporters inside, including human rights organizations and diplomats, gave me such encouragement. They were supporting democracy and human rights, not just me.

    I want to thank everyone for joining together for my release. Thank you to Amnesty International’s members for protecting my freedom.

    March 14, 2013

    A Cambodian court’s decision to overturn anti-state convictions and a two-decade prison sentence against a prominent journalist is a positive step for freedom of expression in the country, Amnesty International said.

    Mam Sonando, 72, the owner of one of Cambodia’s few independent radio stations, was first convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison in October 2012 on charges of “insurrection”. Amnesty International considered him a prisoner of conscience, imprisoned simply for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression.

    But today the Appeal Court in Phnom Penh overturned the more serious convictions against Mam Sonando. Instead, he was given a five-year prison sentence for offences including “instigating illegal clearing and occupation of forest.” He has already been in prison for eight months and the rest of his sentence is suspended. He will be released this week.

    March 14, 2013

    Khmer Rouge Tribunal proceedings must continue without unnecessary delays, Amnesty International said following the death of former Khmer Rouge foreign minister Ieng Sary.

    Ieng Sary, 87, was standing trial for alleged crimes against humanity, genocide, and war crimes carried out during the period of Khmer Rouge rule in Cambodia in the 1970s.

    The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, known also as the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, announced his death on Thursday morning. The two remaining accused in the case, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, are both over 77 years old.

    Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Researcher on Cambodia, in Phnom Penh, said:

    “The news of Ieng Sary’s death will be difficult for the victims of the Khmer Rouge crimes who have waited so long for justice.

    “But Ieng Sary should not be presumed guilty of the crimes alleged, as the proceedings against him were not completed and there has been no verdict.

    “Amnesty International calls for an expeditious trial of the two remaining accused in this case, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, with fair trial rights respected.

    March 04, 2013

    The Cambodian authorities must free prisoner of conscience and government critic Mam Sonando, Amnesty International said ahead of his appeal hearing tomorrow in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh.

    The 71-year-old was sentenced to 20 years in prison on 1 October 2012 for anti-state offences including instigating “insurrection”.

    “Mam Sonando’s 20-year prison sentence was inexplicable and baseless, with no evidence presented at the trial that he initiated a violent uprising against the government,” said Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Researcher on Cambodia, who attended the original trial and verdict hearing.

    “Rather, he has been imprisoned simply for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression and must be freed immediately and unconditionally.”

    Additionally in breach of the right to freedom of expression, some of his supporters have been told by local authorities to remove Mam Sonando Justice Calendars from display outside their homes. The calendars, which show the number of days Mam Sonando has been imprisoned, are a local campaigning tool by Cambodian activists.

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