Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Courts tools in fight against dissent: NGOs

Courts tools in fight against dissent: NGOs

Courts tools in fight against dissent: NGOs

Cambodia's courts were being used as weapons in the government’s quest to silence land protesters, right groups claimed yesterday.

Licadho, Equitable Cambodia and the Housing Rights Task Force were among a coalition of NGOs to condemn the pre-trial detention of Yorm Bopha and Tim Sakmony, who were locked in Prey Sar prison this week after being charged in the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

“Ever increasing is the use of criminalisation and pre-trial detention to silence the decent voices of victimised communities, their representatives and human-rights defenders,” Yeng Virak, executive director of the Community Legal Education Centre, said.

“This is a systematic, repeated and consistent tactic that is in violation of the fundamental and constitutional rights of all Cambodians.”

Boeung Kak village representative Yorm Bopha, 29, was arrested by plainclothed officials on Tuesday and charged with intentional violence with aggravating circumstances, related to a thief being beaten at Boeung Kak.

She denies involvement, and her lawyer, Ham Sunrith, said he would urge the court to hear her case as soon as possible.

Borei Keila evictee Tim Sakmony, 65, who the Post reported yesterday as being charged with incitement, had actually been charged with making a false declaration to try to secure an apartment at Borei Keila, Licadho senior adviser Am Sam Ath said.

“[Sakmony] admitted to receiving a flat from the company and said she had protested to demand a flat for her disabled son,” he said, adding a guilty verdict could carry two years’ jail and a US$985 fine.  

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said the government did not interfere in the courts and court officials were “held to their own account”.

“The opposition party is always insulting us about this [alleged interference], but the courts are entirely independent,” he said.

Siphan said senior ministers had left Boeung Kak alone since Prime Minister Hun Sen signed a sub-decree last August granting villagers 12 hectares of land, adding it fell to the municipal authority to demarcate that land.

To contact the reporters on this story: Shane Worrell at [email protected]
Khouth Sophak Chakrya at [email protected]

MOST VIEWED

  • Guards protest dismissals, reject claims of sharing naked photos of child

    Some 20 former security guards at the US Embassy in Phnom Penh protested on Tuesday against their dismissal. They accused their employers of falsely claiming they had viewed and shared child pornography from their mobile phones as grounds for their termination. In total, 32 personnel were dismissed

  • We’re going to Wisney World!

    More than 6,000 mostly Chinese attendees witnessed the inauguration ceremony of a $1 billion Sihanoukville resort project called Wisney World in the capital on Wednesday. The event on Koh Pich, attended by several senior Cambodian government officials, is a joint venture between China’s AMC International and

  • Funcinpec urges probe into deadly Preah Sihanouk accident

    THE Funcinpec party has urged the government, especially the Ministry of Interior, to investigate the traffic accident in Preah Sihanouk province which left Prince Norodom Ranariddh badly injured and his wife Ouk Phalla dead. Funcinpec Vice President You Hokry told reporters at Botum Votey pagoda,

  • Gov’t continues China tilt as ties with the US slide on ‘interference’ in Kingdom’s internal affairs

    CHINA has granted some $131 million in aid to the Cambodian military. It comes as yet another sign that the Kingdom is strengthening strategic ties with its Asian neighbour to counter increasingly cold relations with the United States. The aid was announced as part of a