Four staffers with rights organisation Adhoc and one National Election Committee official, collectively dubbed the “Adhoc 5”, did not win the prestigious Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders, a nomination they received during a 14-month stint in pre-trial detention in relation to a purported opposition sex scandal.
The five, who were released in late June, were in pre-trial detention for 427 days after they were charged with “bribery” while offering legal assistance to a Phnom Penh hairdresser allegedly romantically involved with Cambodia National Rescue Party President Kem Sokha. Despite their release, the case against them remains open.
The Adhoc staffers – Lim Mony, Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan and Nay Vanda – and NEC Deputy Secretary-General Ny Chakrya were nominated in April, but none of the five could attend the awards show because of travel restrictions associated with their bail.
“This is not a regretful thing for us. This [nomination] was already giving value to Cambodia, and it was our honour that we received it,” Adhoc spokesman Soeung Sen Karuna said yesterday.
The award, which was announced last night in Geneva, ultimately went to Egyptian Mohamed Zaree, Egypt office director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies. Salvadoran LGBT activist Karla Avelar was also one of the three finalists.
The Adhoc 5 could not be reached yesterday. The annual awards have been called “the Nobel Prize for human rights”, and are adjudicated by a jury of 10 of the world’s leading human rights NGOs.