STATEMENT: Ratanakiri Court Sanctions Impunity in the Murder of Journalist Heng Serei Odoum

Phnom Penh, 30 August 2013 – The Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC) expresses its deep concerns over the decision by the Ratanakiri provincial court on 28 August 2013 to drop the charges against two people accused of killing journalist Heng Serei Oudom- Mr. An Bunheng and his wife Mrs. Srim Srey Vy. Mr. An Bunheng is a military police officer in the province. The police concluded that Mr. Heng Serei Oudom was murdered at the house of the accused.

Mr. Heng Serei Oudom – a journalist for the Vorakchun Khmer newspaper – went missing on 09 September 2012. He had recently written articles criticizing military police officers for taking part in illegal logging activities in the province. ADHOC has investigated the murder scene and subsequent two trials of the accused and found a number of shortcomings in the proceedings.
The first hearing occurred under Judge Mr. Y Sovann on 04 January 2013. The court decided that critical evidence in the case – the claim by one of the witnesses to have heard voices and sounds of the perpetrators at the murder scene; and the phone records of the victim and the accused – must be considered. This critical evidence had not been included in the preliminary investigation, despite the fact that Article 95 of the Criminal Procedure Code provides for technical or scientific examination.

ADR Objectives

The overall objective of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Section is: To improve access to justice for the Cambodian people, contributing to small-scale conflict resolution The Specific objectives are: To strengthen in- and out-of-court dispute resolution mechanisms. To build dialogue and cooperation between the local authorities and grassroots communities.