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NGOs ask for freedom for jailed rights staffers

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Ny Sokha (centre left) and Yi Soksan (centre right), are escorted to a hearing at the Appeal Court in Phnom Penh last year. Heng Chivoan

NGOs ask for freedom for jailed rights staffers

Civil society organisations on Saturday once again called for the release of five jailed human rights staffers, two months after a United Nations body deemed their detention to be arbitrary.

In November, the UN’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) called for the release of the four Adhoc staffers and one National Election Committee official after determining their arrests to be in violation of international human, political and civil rights conventions to which the Cambodian government is a signatory.

A statement released by 25 NGOs on Saturday called out the government for failing to heed the recommendations of the November ruling and asked for the immediate release of the five.

“It is extremely disappointing that the Cambodian authorities have not taken steps to urgently remedy the rights violations that were identified publically and unequivocally by the UN WGAD in November,” said Chak Sopheap, head of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights.

The five Adhoc staffers – Lim Mony, Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan and Nay Vanda, and election official Ny Chakrya – were arrested last April on “bribery” charges in relation to opposition leader Kem Sokha’s alleged sex scandal.

Following a political deal, Kem Sokha was pardoned for a conviction on a related charge and released in early December, with Interior Minister Sar Kheng insinuating the five would be released before the end of last year, but they remain in jail.

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