Martin Ennals Award Jury expresses its concern about Loun Sovath, Martin Ennals Award Laureate 2012

November 22, 2014

On 24 November 2014 the Jury of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders (MEA) published a letter expressing concern by all 10 NGOs on the Jury about the charges against its 2012 Laureate. Here is the text:

new MEA_logo with text The Martin Ennals Award Jury (Listed Below) is extremely concerned about the flawed and protracted judicial proceedings being used to threaten renowned human rights defender (HRD) Venerable Loun Sovath. He is scheduled to face trial on November 25, 2014. Venerable Sovath is internationally known as the “multimedia monk,” and his efforts to voice the human rights abuses suffered by land communities and HRDs in Cambodia have been recognized globally. The charges brought against Venerable Sovath are groundless and must be dropped immediately. 

Venerable Sovath was awarded the 2012 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders. The award was created in 1993 to honor and protect individuals who demonstrate exceptional courage in defending and promoting human rights.

Despite international recognition Venerable Sovath has continually been targeted by religious and legal authorities in Cambodia. He has been subjected on numerous occasions to threats of imprisonment, verbal abuse, death threats, and defrocking, among others.

As part of a wave of arrests, trials, and convictions of social activists and peaceful demonstrators, this case is the renewal of an old case in which Venerable Sovath was charged with incitement to commit a felony [1] for allegedly inciting and leading demonstrations by victims of land conflicts against government authorities in Chi Kreng, Siem Reap, and Boeung Kak lake, Phnom Penh. The trial is now scheduled for November 25, 2014. If convicted, Venerable Sovath faces up to two years in prison and a fine of US$1,000, equivalent to over 4,000,000 Cambodian Riels.

….. The vagueness of the charges and lack of clarity surrounding the legal process raise significant concerns. The Martin Ennals Award Jury calls on the Government of Cambodia to ensure any legal processes are handled in accordance with the principles of the rule of law.

Martin Ennals Award Jury:

– Amnesty International,

– Human Rights Watch,

– Human Rights First,

– Int’l Federation for Human Rights (FIDH),

– World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT),

– Front Line Defenders,

– International Commission of Jurists,

– EWDE Germany,

– International Service for Human Rights,

– HURIDOCS.

[1] Cambodia Criminal Code, Article 495 (imposing criminal liability for “Incitement to commit a felony or to disturb social security…”).

see also: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/11/05/cambodian-mea-laureate-2012-luon-sovath-charged-with-incitement/

 

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