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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Cambodia: Judicial harassment against Mr. Soum Chankea

URGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY


KHM 001 / 0212 / OBS 020
Judicial harassment
Cambodia
February 15, 2012


The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Cambodia.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC) of the judicial harassment faced by Mr. Soum Chankea, its Provincial Coordinator in Banteay Meanchey province.

According to the information received, on February 9, 2012, Mr. Soum Chankea was summoned by the Prosecutor’s Office in Sisophon, capital of Banteay Meanchey province, following a complaint lodged by Mr. Oum Socheath, Head of the Banteay Meanchey branch of the Cambodia Mine Action Centre (CMAC) and Coordinator of the UNDP-CMAC mine clearance programme. The questioning is scheduled for February 20, 2012. The Prosecutor will then decide whether charges will be officially brought against Mr. Soum Chankea. These include “slanderous denunciation”, an offence punishable by up to one year in prison and a up to two million riels (380 euros) fine under Article 311 of the Criminal Code.

The complaint against Mr. Soum Chankea follows ADHOC’s intervention in a gender-based violence case. The victim filed complaints against Mr. Oum Socheath and Mr. Pong Piseth, also known as Mr. Veth, a business man in the area of real estate and construction, on November 4 and 9, 2011 respectively, accusing them of sexual harassment and assault. Following the victim’s complaints, the authorities allegedly took no action to investigate the allegations. Mr. Soum Chankea intervened several times in her favour to urge the police and the Prosecutor to investigate the case. According to information gathered by ADHOC, Messrs. Oum Socheath and Pong Piseth would be benefiting from the protection of a businessman whose brother is a high-ranking government official.

The Observatory expresses its deepest concern about Mr. Soum Chankea's summons for questioning, which seems to merely aim at sanctioning his human rights activities, and accordingly calls upon the Cambodian authorities to put an end to all acts of harassment - including at the judicial level - against him.

Actions requested:

Please write to the Cambodian authorities and ask them to:


i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Soum Chankea;

ii. Put an end to acts of harassment - including at the judicial level - against him as well as against all human rights defenders in Cambodia;

iii. Conform in any circumstances with the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted on December 9, 1998 by the United Nations General Assembly, and in particular :
- Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually or in association with others, to promote the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”,
- and Article 12.2 which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”.

iv. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Cambodia.


Addresses:

·       Mr. Hun Sen, Prime Minister, Office of the Prime Minister, Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia, Fax: +855 23 36 06 66 / 855 23 88 06 24 (c/o Council of Ministers), Email: leewood_phu@nida.gov.kh
·       Mr. H.E. Ang Vong Vathna, Minister of Justice, No 240, Sothearos Blvd, Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia, Fax: 023 364119. Email: moj@cambodia.gov.kh
·       Mr. Sar Kheng, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, Ministry of Interior, 275 Norodom Blvd, Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia, Fax: + 855 23 212708. Email: moi@interior.gov.kh
·       Mr. Hor Nam Hong, Minister of Foreign Affairs, 161 Preah Sisowath Quay, Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia, Fax: + 855 23 21 61 44 / + 855 23 21 69 39. Email: mfaicasean@bigpond.com.kh
·       Ambassador Mr. Sun Suon, Permanent Mission of Cambodia to the United Nations in Geneva, Chemin de Taverney 3, Case postale 213, 1218 Grand-Saconnex, Switzerland, Fax: + 41 22 788 77 74. Email: camemb.gva@mfa.gov.kh; cambodge@bluewin.ch 

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Cambodia in your respective countries.

***
Geneva-Paris, February 15, 2012

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, an OMCT and FIDH venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
·     Email: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
·     Tel and fax OMCT: + 41 22 809 49 39 / 41 22 809 49 29
·    Tel and fax FIDH: +33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / 01 43 55 18 80
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