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Cambodia

    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.”

    May 04, 2016

    The Cambodian authorities and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) must immediately end its ongoing and unlawful campaign to dismantle the political opposition and undermine the invaluable and legitimate work of the country’s human rights’ groups and political commentators. It is time for the international community to step in and to call on Cambodia to end this campaign which threatens to fatally undermine the Cambodian people’s constitutionally and internationally protected rights.

    On 2 May 2016, four staff members from the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC), Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan, Nay Vanda, and Lem Mony, were arrested and charged with bribing a witness along with former ADHOC staff member and current deputy secretary-general of the National Election Committee, Ny Chakrya, who was charged as an accomplice. The Anti-Corruption Unit also issued an arrest warrant for Soen Saly, an officer of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), despite his immunity from arrest granted under the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations. He is also charged as an accomplice.

    July 21, 2015

    The Cambodian authorities must immediately quash politically motivated convictions against 11 opposition party activists handed down today after grossly unfair trials, Amnesty International said.

    A court in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh today sentenced 10 youth activists and one official from the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) to between seven and 20 years in prison on “insurrection” charges.

    “This trial lacked the most basic fair trial guarantees, and the convictions of these 11 activists should be overturned immediately,” said Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Research Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

    “The proceedings were littered with flaws and the defendants were denied the right to be tried by an independent and impartial tribunal.”

    The charges relate to a demonstration in Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park on 15 July 2014 around Cambodia’s disputed elections, which ended in violent clashes between protesters and “para-police”.

    June 03, 2015

    Posted at 0001hrs GMT  4 June 2015

    The Cambodian authorities must provide justice to those killed, disappeared and injured during the crackdowns on protests by security forces, Amnesty International said today in a new report.  

    Taking to the streets documents how not a single official or member of the security forces has been held to account for the often brutal repression of protests in Cambodia, including around the disputed 2013 elections.

    “Protesters in Cambodia have had to brave batons and sometimes bullets to voice their opinions. Over the past two years people have taken to the streets to demand their rights like never before, but the authorities have regularly responded with violent repression,” said Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Research Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

    “Our report documents how victims of serious human rights violations by security forces have been left without justice and effective remedies, while those responsible continue to walk free.”

    September 25, 2014

    A new low in Australia’s deplorable and inhumane treatment of asylum seekers has been reached with a deal to apparently ship refugees to Cambodia, where respect for their human rights cannot be guaranteed, said Amnesty International.

    An agreement between the Australian and Cambodian governments to relocate refugees to the South-East Asian state is to be signed tomorrow, 26 September, in Phnom Penh by Cambodia’s Minister of Interior and Australia’s Minister of Immigration and Border Protection.

    “This agreement is putting the short-term political interests of the Australian government ahead of the protection of some of the world's most vulnerable people – refugees,” said Rupert Abbott, Deputy Asia-Pacific Director at Amnesty International.

    “It makes Cambodia complicit in Australia’s human rights breaches and seriously flawed offshore processing system.”

    August 07, 2014

    Today’s decision convicting two of Cambodia’s most senior former Khmer Rouge officials for crimes against humanity at the country’s UN-backed Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) is an important step towards justice, Amnesty International said.

    Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia-Pacific Director Rupert Abbott said: “This long-awaitedruling is an important step towards justice for the victims of the Khmer Rouge period and highlights the importance of addressing impunity.”

    “But the earlier refusal of senior Cambodian government officials to give evidence, as well as allegations of political interference in other ECCC cases, is troubling and raises concerns around the fairness of the proceedings and respect for victims’ right to hear the full truth regarding the alleged crimes.” 

    “Fair and effective trials are crucial if the ECCC is to leave a lasting legacy which strengthens Cambodia’s very fragile judicial system and contributes towards ending the deep culture of impunity.

    January 03, 2014

    Cambodian authorities must hold security forces to account for today’s killing of at least four people at a protest by garment workers that turned violent in the capital Phnom Penh, Amnesty International said.

    “Today’s tragic violence must be investigated and those responsible for deaths and injuries held to account,” said Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Cambodia Researcher.

    “The Cambodian government has to rein in its security forces. Today’s events sadly echo other recent incidents – on at least four occasions in the past few months, security forces have used unnecessary or excessive force, including live ammunition, against protesters and bystanders.”

    “As with so many human rights violations in Cambodia, the lack of accountability for these incidents is a reminder of the pervasive culture of impunity in the country. There must be root and branch change to ensure the perpetrators of violations are brought to book.”

    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.”

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