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Cambodia

    October 05, 2018

    Responding to the conviction and sentencing of Ban Samphy to seven months in prison and a five-month suspended sentence on charges of “insulting the king” for sharing a Facebook post, Minar Pimple, Amnesty International’s Senior Director for Global Operations, said:

    “Ban Samphy is behind bars for expressing himself – all he did was click a ‘share’ button for a post that included nothing but peaceful criticism. He should be released immediately and unconditionally, and his sentence must be overturned.

    “This is a brazenly political verdict. Earlier this year, Hun Sen’s administration devised this ‘lese majeste’ provision to the Criminal Code to muzzle peaceful criticism, as this first conviction shows. This legislation must be repealed.”

    Background

    Ban Samphy, a 70-year-old barber and former minor opposition official from Siem Reap, was jailed for sharing a Facebook post that criticized Prime Minister Hun Sen and what the post called the "fake king" over a dam project.

    September 26, 2018

    Responding to the news that a court in Cambodia has convicted the “ADHOC Five” peaceful activists of “bribery” and given them suspended five-year prison sentences, Minar Pimple, Senior Director of Global Operations from Amnesty International, said:

    “This verdict is yet another example of Cambodian authorities’ use of the courts to harass and stifle the human rights movement. To qualify legal aid as ‘bribery’ is absurd.

    “This is a political outcome to a political case. The ADHOC Five should never have been arrested and prosecuted in the first place. This is an obvious attempt to punish the activists for their peaceful human rights work, and deter them and others. The verdict and sentence must immediately and unconditionally be repealed.

    “This case will cast a long shadow on Cambodia’s peaceful human rights activists, who have come under increasing assault by the authorities. This crackdown must end immediately.”

    Background

    September 10, 2018

    Responding to the news that opposition leader Kem Sokha has been released from prison on bail and is now being held under house arrest, Minar Pimple, Amnesty International’s Senior Director of Global Operations said:

    “While this is a welcome development, it offers no consolation for the gross injustice that Kem Sokha continues to endure. The fact remains that after more than a year in pre-trial detention, he still faces a set of baseless, politically motivated charges that carry a heavy prison sentence.

    “Kem Sokha is now a prisoner in his own home. We call on the Cambodian authorities to drop all charges against him and make his release permanent, full and unconditional. Following reports that he requires hospital care, we also urge authorities to grant him immediate access to adequate medical attention.”

    Background

    August 20, 2018

    Responding to the news that human rights defender Tep Vanny has been released from prison following a royal pardon after more than 700 days in detention, Minar Pimple, Amnesty International’s Senior Director of Global Operations, said:

    “After more than two years of being unjustly detained for her peaceful activism, the news that Tep Vanny is once again reunited with her family is a cause for great celebration.

    “However, her release is long overdue. Tep Vanny has endured a catalogue of injustice - from baseless, politically-motivated charges to unfair trials – and should never have been imprisoned in the first place.

    “As well as allowing Tep Vanny to resume her activism without fear of further reprisals, Cambodia’s authorities must quash all convictions against her and halt any investigations into any other pending charges. Additionally, the many other human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience still languishing behind bars in the country must also be immediately and unconditionally released.”

    Background

    February 22, 2018
    Amnesty International publishes State of the World’s Human Rights report for 2017 to 2018 “Last year our world was immersed in crises, with prominent leaders offering us a nightmarish vision of a society blinded by hatred and fear. This emboldened those who promote bigotry, but it inspired far more people to campaign for a more hopeful future,” says Salil Shetty, head of Amnesty International

    The world is reaping the terrifying consequences of hate-filled rhetoric that threatens to normalize massive discrimination against marginalized groups, Amnesty International warned today as it launched its annual assessment of human rights.

    Nevertheless, the organization found that a growing movement of both first-time and seasoned activists campaigning for social justice provides real hope of reversing the slide towards oppression.

    The report, The State of the World’s Human Rights, covers 159 countries and delivers the most comprehensive analysis of the state of human rights in the world today.

    February 07, 2018
    Reacting to the news that the Cambodian Supreme Court today upheld the conviction and a 30 months' prison sentence for land rights activist Tep Vanny, James Gomez, Amnesty International's Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said:   "With today's ruling, Cambodia's judiciary has once again failed to prove that it can act independently, choosing to do the government's bidding instead. Tep Vanny is a brave social activist who has done nothing but peacefully stand up for her community. She should be released immediately and unconditionally, not forced to spend two and a half years in jail.   "The criminal proceedings against Tep Vanny have been deeply flawed from the start. She has become a symbol for the fight for justice in Cambodia and is someone the authorities have been determined to take off Cambodia's streets by any means necessary.  
    January 26, 2018

    Reacting to today’s verdict sentencing two environmental activists affiliated with the NGO Mother Nature to prison for one year plus fines, James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Southeast Asia and Pacific Director, said:

    “This is a farcical sentence that must be overturned immediately. The two Mother Nature activists have done nothing but peacefully campaigned for the protection of Cambodia’s environment and should have never been charged in the first place. Instead of going after the messenger, the authorities should do more to curb the illegal trade in natural resources that Hun Vannak and Doem Kundy activists were trying to expose.

    “Today’s ruling is yet more evidence of the politicised nature of Cambodia’s courts. Far from seeking justice and fairness, they too often act as an arm of the government to harass, intimidate and imprison human rights activists.

    “The backslide on human rights in Cambodia over the past year has been alarming. Unless the world wakes up and acts to demand change, space for peaceful activism and expression will shrink further as the government tightens its grip ahead of elections due this July.”

    November 16, 2017

    Reacting to the Cambodian Supreme Court’s decision to dissolve the main opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Director of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said:

    “Today’s decision by the Supreme Court to dissolve the CNRP is not only a blatant act of political repression that must be reversed immediately, but also a serious violation of the human rights to freedom of association and expression in Cambodia. The fact that the court also ruled to ban more than 100 senior CNRP officials from political activity for five years compounds this injustice.

    “This is yet more evidence of how the judiciary in Cambodia is essentially used as an arm of the executive and as a political tool to silence dissent. The Supreme Court President Judge is known to have close ties to Prime Minister Hun Sen and is a member of high level committees of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.

    October 06, 2017

    The Cambodian authorities’ attempts to shut down the main opposition party ahead of next year’s general election is the latest move in a relentless effort to crush all forms of dissent, however peaceful, Amnesty International said today.

    The Interior Ministry today filed a complaint with the Supreme Court asking for the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) to be dissolved ahead of the elections scheduled for July 2018.

    “Prime Minister Hun Sen and his government seem intent on turning Cambodia into a criticism-free state by any means necessary. The attempts to disband the opposition party ahead of next year’s crucial vote is a blatant power grab and another escalation in the authorities’ crackdown on all forms of dissent,” said James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

    “The international community cannot stand idly by and simply watch as the human rights situation backslides rapidly in Cambodia. Key countries must immediately push the Cambodian government to end the sweeping restrictions on opposition figures’ and human rights defenders’ rights to liberty and to freedom of expression.”

    September 04, 2017

    The Cambodian authorities’ closure of the country’s longest running English-language newspaper today represents a new and disturbing escalation in the pre-election crackdown on government critics, Amnesty International said. The closure comes a day after the prominent opposition leader Kem Sokha was arrested on trumped up charges.

    The Cambodia Daily was today forced to shut down after it failed to meet a deadline to pay a multi-million dollar tax bill the government imposed on the newspaper in August. The Daily, founded in 1993, was one of the few media outlets in the country not controlled by the government.

    “This is a disturbing day for freedom of expression in Cambodia. It is chilling how ruthlessly and quickly the authorities have been able to move to shut down one of the country’s few, independent voices in the media,” said James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Director of Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

    August 15, 2017
      Amnesty International and 63 other organizations are demanding the release of the Cambodian human rights defender Tep Vanny today on the one-year anniversary of her arrest on trumped up charges.   “Tep Vanny has now languished in prison for one year for doing nothing but peacefully defending her community. The charges against her have always been spurious at best – she must be released immediately and unconditionally,” said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Deputy Campaigns Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.  
    July 28, 2017
      By Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Deputy Campaigns Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific   There is nothing left of Boeung Kak lake in the centre of Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh. What used to be the largest body of water in the city has over the past years been completely filled with sand, as part of a development project to build new condominiums and office buildings. Since construction started in 2007 thousands of families have been illegally evicted, and the Boeung Kak area has become a focal point for human rights defenders in Cambodia.  
    July 05, 2017
    Responding to the Cambodian government’s decision to ban the NGO coalition called the Situation Room from monitoring next year’s elections, Amnesty International’s Deputy Campaigns Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, Josef Benedict, said:   “The ban on the Situation Room is a blatant attempt to silence the work of civil society in Cambodia, and must be reversed immediately. It is chilling that the government is moving to limit public debate and unduly restrict the rights to freedom of expression and association ahead of next year’s general election.   “Instead of trying to repress civil society, Cambodia must ensure that NGOs can operate without fear of reprisal. The first steps should be to repeal the restrictive law on NGOs enacted in 2015, and stop using the courts to harass and silence human rights defenders. These tactics have left civil society extremely vulnerable, where many NGO workers live under the daily threat of being arbitrarily detained or subjected to other forms of retaliation for the work they do.”  
    May 30, 2017

    Cambodia’s government is using its courts to silence human rights defenders and political activists, Amnesty International says today in a new report.

    Using its tight grip on the criminal justice system, the Cambodian government has brought a series of trumped-up charges against members of the political opposition, trade union activists, human rights activists, and political commentators, in an attempt to harass, intimidate and punish them.

    “In Cambodia, the courts are tools in the hands of the government. Much lip-service is paid to the judiciary’s independence, but the evidence reveals a cynical manipulation of the criminal justice system to serve political goals and silence people whose views the government refuses to tolerate,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

    September 09, 2016

    Reacting to the conviction earlier today of Kem Sokha, the acting head of the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party, on charges under Article 538 of refusing to appear as a witness, Amnesty International said:

    “Cambodia is in crisis with the government engaging in a campaign of intimidation against peaceful political and civil society activists, using frivolous prosecutions designed to punish, isolate and marginalise any peaceful dissent,” said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for South East Asia and the Pacific.

    “Today’s conviction of acting opposition leader Kem Sokha for refusing to appear as a witness is yet another transparent act of political intimidation and the latest development in the ongoing campaign. The government’s appears to believe that violating human rights is a legitimate tool of government, as is compromising the independence of the country’s judiciary and the government’s standing in the international community.”

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