COMMENTARY: CHRAC / KAS / Cambodian Bar Association Workshop on the ECCC’s Legacies

On March 12, the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC), German political foundation Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) and the Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia invited to a high-calibre Workshop on the ‘Implementation of the ECCC Legacies for Domestic Legal and Judicial Reform’. While the foreign panelists gave compelling and comprehensive reports regarding the status quo of the ECCC’s legacy, as well as regarding future possibilities within the legacy-phase, the Cambodian panelists provided valuable first-hand knowledge on the demand-side of the Judicial Reform.

STATEMENT: No Victory for Justice Despite Welcome Release from Prison of Broma Villagers

The Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC) today witnessed the release of Mr. Touch Ream and Mr. Kann Savann, after 10 months in prison in connection with a so-called secessionist movement in Broma village, Kampong Domrey commune, Chhlong district, Kratie province. The site is home to a controversial Economic Land Concession (ELC) granted to a Russian Company, Casotim. ADHOC provided lawyers for the men for their hearing at the Court of Appeal on 5-6 March 2013 and for the verdict on 14 March 2013. Outside the prison today there was little fanfare like that seen with the release of their co-defendant on Friday – the prominent journalist and democracy activist Mam Sonando – but the men can now return home with their families. That the men are free is welcome. However, the ruling of the Appeal Court was no victory for justice. Touch Ream and Kann Sovann remain convicted of crimes which no evidence supports, and have lost 10 months of their lives to Phnom Penh’s Prey Sar Prison.

ADHOC Organized a Sensitization Session on Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

On 11 March 2013, ADHOC organized a sensitization session on Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in Tangen village, Takream commune, Banon district, Battambang province. The session, which was held from 9:00 to 11:00am, was facilitated by Mr. Yin Mengly, ADHOC’s Provincial Coordinator and ADR Officer in Battambang, and attended by local authorities and grassroots representatives from Tangen, Or Tangha and Or Phongmean villages. There were a total of 126 participants, including 44 women. […]

ADHOC will carry out the same activities in 2013. It will select 36 communes as targets, organize sensitization sessions, and help set up communal ADR Committees to solve minor conflicts through mediation and to enhance solidarity.

CHRAC STATEMENT: A Good Day for Mam Sonando; A Bad Day for Rule of Law in Cambodia

The Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC), a coalition of 21 NGOs members, is pleased that the Court of Appeal today ruled to release Mam Sonando, KanSovann and Touch Ream; however, CHRAC cannot welcome this decision as they remain convicted on a number of spurious charges, which should have been dropped altogether.

Mam Sonando – the owner of independent Beehive Radio station and President of the Association of Democrats – was sentenced to 20 years in prison in on 01 October 2012, in relation to a so-called secessionist movement in Broma village, Kratie province. No credible evidence was ever produced to support the politically motivated charges against him. Mam Sonando should have been acquitted at the Appeal Court today; instead it upheld three of the original charges – articles 28, 504 and 609 of the Penal Code – and added another qualification – article 97(6) of the Forestry Law – in a move that raises serious concerns with regard to rule of law and rights of the defense.

CHRAC STATEMENT: Civil Society Expresses Regret of the Recent Death of the Accused, Ieng Sary, Along the Way to Justice

The Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC), a coalition of 21 NGOs members, deeply regret to learn the death of one of the ECCC’s accused, Mr. Ieng Sary, at age of 87 due to his poor health at Cambodia-Soviet Friendship Hospital in the morning of 14th March 2013.

CHRAC is of the view that the death of the accused Ieng Sary represents a loss of a witness of the Khmer Rouge regime who was personally involved in the crimes and atrocities committed during the Democratic Kampuchea era between 1975 and 1979 as described in the Closing Order of the tribunal’s Co-Investigating Judges. The loss will not only impact on the Khmer Rouge historical record, it will also have a negative impact on the efforts to seek justice and closure for many civil parties, victims and ordinary Cambodians who have been personally participating in the ECCC process in their demand for justice against the accused.

STATEMENT: ADHOC Condemns the Crackdown on Boeung Kak Residents’ Peaceful Demonstration

The Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC) condemns in the strongest terms the callous beating of peaceful protesters outside the Prime Minister’s house on 13 March 2013. In total more than ten people were injured, five seriously – including two who were knocked unconscious – when they were set upon by security forces. The demonstrators were former residents of Boeung Kak Lake in Phnom Penh- the site of a controversial forced eviction in January 2012. The beating of protesters by security forces is completely unacceptable; freedom of expression and freedom of assembly are enshrined in the Cambodian Constitution, in addition to international human rights standards to which Cambodia is state party. The beating of protesters has no place in a society that respects the rights of its citizens. An investigation should be launched into today’s vicious attack and the perpetrators brought to justice.

STATEMENT: Appeal Court Should Drop Charges Against Mam Sonando

The Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC) strongly urges the Court of Appeal to drop all charges against Mam Sonando on 14 March 2013. The case against him is paper-thin, a point acknowledged by the prosecutor when he requested that the two most serious charges against Mam Sonando be dropped at the Appeal hearing on 06 March 2013. The prosecutor then introduced a new charge related to land grabbing – a supreme irony given Mam Sonando’s work to educate people about their land rights – that does not fit the facts from the original incident.