Subscribe Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - NGOs rally support for summonsed worker

NGOs rally support for summonsed worker

NGOs rally support for summonsed worker

Charges against outspoken Adhoc head of monitoring Chan Soveth are baseless, politically motivated and threaten to undermine human rights work in Cambodia, a coalition of NGOs said yesterday.

Soveth, who has been summonsed to court on August 24 over the vague charge of assisting “specific perpetrators”, spent yesterday working on a human rights project with Anti-Corruption Unit President Om Yentieng in Sihanoukville.

But according to NGOs, legal action against Soveth has placed the future of such rights work under serious threat.

“Soveth’s summons represents the boldest attack against human rights work that we’ve seen in a decade,” Suon Bunsak, the executive secretary of the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee said in a statement yesterday from 20 NGOs.

Soveth’s summons, issued last week, does not specify who he is supposed to have assisted, but an anonymous court official told the Post the charges relate to an alleged secessionist plot in Kratie province’s Chhloung district, which authorities claim was led by Bun Ratha.

“Soveth has been summoned to answer charges that he illegally aided a resident of a Kratie village that was brutally raided by armed government forces in May,” the NGO statement said. “The summons was issued less than two weeks after a nationally televised speech by the Prime Minister [Hun Sen] in which he implored an unnamed NGO worker to ‘confess’ to his role in aiding the Kratie villagers.”

Hun Sen went on to ask if that worker had been questioned.

Soveth said yesterday he would attend court because he did not want to be arrested.

“But the [Phnom Penh Municipal Court] has not adhered to correct procedure with my case – it accused me before issuing a summons,” he said.

Suon Bunthoeun, human rights defenders project coordinator for the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, said the summons was an example of government intimidation.

“I think the government is trying to stop human rights defenders speaking out,” he said, adding Soveth was targeted because he had closely monitored issues in Kratie and given advice to victims of land disputes.

To contact the reporters on this story: May Titthara at [email protected]
Shane Worrell at [email protected]

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Thy Sovantha threatens new suit

    Social media celebrity and card-carrying CPP member Thy Sovantha yesterday said she will file a lawsuit against wildlife NGO head Suwanna Gauntlett alleging discrimination after the latter allegedly denied her access to an ecotourism program the group is launching today in Koh Kong province. The

  • Police raid Siem Reap party, arrest 10 foreigners over ‘pornographic’ images

    A group of 10 foreign tourists appeared in court today after being arrested for producing “pornographic” photos in Siem Reap town on Thursday, while dozens more were detained temporarily and let go after being lectured on their behaviour, according to authorities. A report posted to the

  • Hun Sen’s in-law removed from RCAF after cockfighting rings raided

    Thai Phany, the nephew-in-law of Prime Minister Hun Sen who is accused of running two large cockfighting rings, has been removed as a general in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces. Phany, formerly a one-star brigadier general, was removed by royal decree on December 19, according to

  • Government approves plan to relocate Phnom Penh’s airport

    The government has signed off on a proposal to build a new airport to serve Phnom Penh and has earmarked land in Kandal province for the $1.5 billion project. A new international airport to replace the existing Phnom Penh International Airport will be constructed on partially