Posts Tagged ‘Boeung Kak Lake’

Some good news from Cambodia: Tep Vanny and three other human rights defenders pardoned

August 22, 2018

Tep Vanny, second from left, gestures upon arrival at her home in Phnom Penh, Aug. 20, 2018.

Tep Vanny, second from left, gestures upon arrival at her home in Phnom Penh, Aug. 20, 2018. – AP Photo

Cambodia’s King Norodom Sihamoni on 20 August 2018 granted royal pardons to prominent land rights activist Tep Vanny and three others convicted for their roles in a protest over a land grab in the capital Phnom Penh’s Boeung Kak Lake community. Tep Vanny, 38, was arrested on 15 August 2016 after participating in a demonstration, handed six days in prison for “insulting a public official” and, instead of being released when the sentence was served, charged with “aggravated intentional violence” for a protest she held more than three years earlier in front of the home of Prime Minister Hun Sen.

On Feb. 23, 2017, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court convicted Tep Vanny of assaulting two security officers during the 2013 protest at Hun Sen’s home, sentencing her to 30 months in prison and making her pay 9 million riels (U.S. $2,250) in compensation to the officers. Three other female activists—Heng Mom, Bo Chhorvy, and Kong Chantha—were also convicted for “obstructing public officials” during the protest, but released on bail.

On Monday, King Sihamoni issued a royal decree at the behest of Hun Sen, overturning the convictions of all four activists without providing any reason for the decision. Speaking to RFA’s Khmer Service, Tep Vanny said: “I was given no prior notice that I would be released,”“The prison guards came to inform me just before 8:30 p.m. that I would be freed soon and said I should get my things ready. I told them they had come to tell the wrong person.”  Although I am happy tonight for the freedom to meet with my family, relatives, and community members, my pain remains with me, as I have spent over two years in jail,”.

Tep Vanny was awarded the 2013 Vital Voices Global Leadership Award for her work campaigning on behalf of the community evicted from Boeung Kak Lake, which was later filled with sand to make way for a development project with ties to Hun Sen and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP). On Monday, she appealed to Hun Sen to release all of the country’s remaining political prisoners, including former RFA reporters Uon Chhin and Yeang Sothearin, who have spent nine months behind bars on “espionage” charges.

Various rights groups had demanded Tep Vanny’s release in the lead up to the 15 August anniversary marking her two years in prison, with New York-based Human Rights Watch’s deputy Asia director Phil Robertson calling her conviction “just one of many outrageous cases in which the authorities have misused Cambodia’s justice system to harass and imprison peaceful land rights activists.” On Monday, London-based Amnesty International’s senior director of global operations Minar Pimple welcomed Tep Vanny’s release in a statement, but called it “long overdue.”

re Boeung Kak Lake case see my older: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2012/06/20/boeung-kak-lake-women-sentenced-for-peaceful-protest-in-cambodia/

Still this is only SOME good news as in the meantime Front Line reported that on 12 August 2018, human rights defender Nay Vanda received a court summon dated 9 August 2018 issued by the Vice Prosecutor of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, summoning him to attend a trial at 7:30am on 27 August 2018 at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court. Subsequently, human rights defender Ny Chakrya also received the same court summons. These summons are related to charges brought against five human rights defenders on 2 May 2016. Nay Vanda, Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan and Lim Mony were charged  <https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/case/five-adhoc-members-detained#case-update-id-3050&gt; with bribing a witness under Article 548 of the Criminal Code, and Ny Chakrya was charged as an accomplice to bribery of a witness in accordance with Articles 28 and 548 of the Criminal Code. If convicted, they face between five to ten years imprisonment. It is anticipated that the three human rights defenders who have not received the court summons will receive them in the coming days. 

The Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC) <https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/profile/adhoc&gt;  is a human rights organisation founded in December 1991 by a group of former political prisoners aiming to address violations of rights and freedoms. See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/adhoc/

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Many links including: https://www.rfa.org/english/news/cambodia/pardons-08202018162801.html

Boeung Kak Lake 13 released in Cambodia

June 27, 2012

On 6 June I informed you about the women of the Boeung Kak Lake protest being sentenced for up to two and a half years for standing up for their land rights, but now a bit of good news: the thirteen protesters have been released from jail. Their sentences having been reduced to 1 month 3 days (which is the time they’ve actually been in detention) by the Appeal Court.

http://www.trust.org/alertnet/multimedia/pictures/detail.dot?mediaInode=9bfd8879-050f-484a-977c-fb5f741f71bd 

http://ki-media.blogspot.com/2012/06/bkl-13-finally-released.html

 To see also the WHRD IC statement on the protesters: http://www.defendingwomen-defendingrights.org/international_coalition_boeung_kak_lake.php

Boeung Kak Lake women sentenced for peaceful protest in Cambodia

June 20, 2012

On 24 May I reported that the Buddhist monk Luon Savath, nominee of the 2012 MEA detained and threatened with defrocking, which would open the way to criminal prosecution. This has not happened yet but the group of 13 women whose protest he was supporting and covering with his video camera, were sentenced as reported by the Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition (WHRD IC) on 19th June 2012 

Phnom Penh’s Boeung Kak Lake has been an area of ongoing land disputes which has resulted in more than 600 families receiving land grants and over 3,500 families being evicted, while other families have been unfairly excluded from receiving land titles. On the 22nd of May about eighty members of the community gathered peacefully at the sand filled lake to sit and sing land rights songs in support of eighteen displaced families. Before noon, it was reported that about two hundred Phnom Penh police and anti-riot police carrying shields and sticks surrounded some of the protesters and arrested thirteen women. Within forty-eight hours all the women received prison sentences, including a seventy two year-old grandmother, to thirty months of imprisonment under Articles 34 and 259 of the Land Law and Articles 504 of the Penal Code.

WHRD IC is particularly concerned that proceedings began only an hour after charges were filed and those proceedings lasted only three hours. Lawyers asked for a delay to allow the preparation of a defense, which is their right under Cambodian law. However not only was this refused, but the lawyers for the accused were also refused access to the files, state evidence, and were not permitted to call witnesses (some of whom were on standby outside the court). Furthermore, two community representatives, who were to act as witnesses for the defense, were arrested outside the court on the same charges; they have since been released on bail under the supervision of the court. Other witnesses, media and the public were not admitted to the courtroom to observe the proceedings. This irregular judicial process denied the women their right to a fair trial and was in clear violation of Cambodia’s Code of Criminal Procedure.

The women have appealed their convictions to the Appeal Court and requested bail; the appeal court hearing is scheduled for 27 June. There has also been a lack of response to calls from the international community, including WHRD IC members, to the Prime Minister Hun Sen to vacate the convictions of the women.

The WHRD IC calls for the Cambodian authorities to:

·        Immediately vacate the convictions and unconditionally release the thirteen women and also drop the criminal charges of the two other community representatives now out on bail.
·        Uphold the right to a fair and just trial and the right of peaceful assembly for all its citizens under the Cambodian law and international standards, in particular the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Cambodia is a state party.
·        Grant land titles to the families who have been excluded and to provide adequate compensation to those who were evicted in full compliance with international human rights standards.
·        Fulfil their commitments under the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders to ensure that human rights defenders are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities.

For more information including articles, photos and video please visit The Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO) website http://www.licadho-cambodia.org/ and the Free the 15! Blog http://freethe15.wordpress.com/2012/06/06/solidarity-action-5-ceremony-to-free-the-15/