Nearly 80 civil society groups yesterday slammed the recent denial of bail to four human rights officials, harsh sentencing of land activist Tep Vanny and increased intimidation of NGOs, calling it a “deliberate strategy” by authorities to suppress dissent ahead of the upcoming elections.
The statement, signed by 78 local and international CSOs, expressed alarm at the escalation in what they described as a government crackdown on fundamental freedoms, saying recent actions are “unlawful, unacceptable and must cease”.
It specifically calls for the immediate release of Adhoc staffers Lim Mony, Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan and Nay Vanda, who – along with elections official Ny Chakrya – have now been in pre-trial detention for 312 days, pointing to a UN release in November that deemed their imprisonment “arbitrary”.
The statement goes on to say that the recent sentencing of Boeung Kak resident Tep Vanny to two and a half years in prison on aggravated violence charges further illustrates an increasingly hostile environment for human rights in Cambodia.
“While 2016 already saw human rights defenders subject to spurious legal charges and imprisonment, the situation has become markedly worse over recent weeks,” said Cambodian Center for Human Rights’ Chak Sopheap, a signatory to the statement.
The Adhoc staffers are scheduled appear before the Supreme Court today, challenging the October extension of their pre-trial detention by six months.