Since 28 April 2016, five Cambodian human rights defenders – four senior staff members from NGO the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC), Mr. Ny Sokha, Mr. Yi Soksan, Mr. Nay Vanda and Ms. Lim Mony, and deputy secretary-general of the National Election Committee (and former ADHOC staff member) Mr. Ny Chakrya – have been detained with regard to advice and legitimate reimbursement of food and transport costs provided to the woman alleged to have had an extra-marital relationship with then deputy opposition leader Kem Sokha.
On 2 May, the four ADHOC staff were indicted with bribing a witness, and Ny Chakrya was indicted as an accomplice to the same crime. United Nations (UN) staffer Mr. Soen Sally was also indicted as an accomplice; however, he remains free due to his immunity as a UN official. That same day, Chakrya was transferred to Police Judiciare and the four ADHOC staff were transferred to Phnom Penh’s Prey Sar prison. The charges bear all the hallmarks of being politically motivated, amounting to legal harassment.
In November 2016, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (“UNWGAD”) concluded that their detention was “arbitrary” and in violation of international human rights law, that they have been discriminated against based on their status as human rights defenders, and called for their immediate release. On 26 April 2017 the courage of the five and their commitment to their work to promote and protect human rights was acknowledged internationally through their nomination as one of three finalists to receive the prestigious Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders.
THE FIVE HAVE NOW SPENT OVER 400 DAYS IN PRISON.
Courageous community leader, land rights activist and inspirational human rights defender, Ms. Tep Vanny has been imprisoned since 15 August 2016, when she was arrested while protesting for the release of the five. Ms. Vanny is one of the most prominent voices of the Boeung Kak Lake community, which campaigned against the forced eviction of residents living by the lake to make way for a development project.
On 23 February 2017, Ms. Vanny was convicted on previously dormant charges of “intentional violence with aggravating circumstances” that dated back to a 2013 protest. Ms Vanny’s trial failed to comply with minimum fair trial rights standards and her sentence of two and a half years appears to be motivated by a desire to restrict her activism and to send a chilling message to others.
Amnesty International have launched an online petition calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Vanny: https://www.amnesty.org/en/get-involved/take-action/defend-cambodia-human-rights-defender-tep-vanny/
TEP VANNY HAS NOW SPENT OVER 300 DAYS IN PRISON.
While they may be behind bars, the five and Tep Vanny have not been forgotten.
#FreeThe5KH #ដោះលែងអ្នកទាំង៥ aims to garner support for the detained human rights defenders, to remind them that the public has not forgotten about their cause and to help keep their morale high while they remain in detention.
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