Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - NGOs call for charges against Adhoc 5 group to be dropped



NGOs call for charges against Adhoc 5 group to be dropped

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Adhoc officials (from left) Lim Mony, Nay Vanda, Ny Sokha and Yi Soksan (grey hair, facing away) hold a press conference last year in Phnom Penh. Heng Chivoan

NGOs call for charges against Adhoc 5 group to be dropped

Five international NGOs on Sunday called for witness bribery charges brought against human rights activists dubbed the “Adhoc 5” to be dropped.

The case is linked to allegations levelled against court dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) leader Kem Sokha which claimed he had an affair with a hairdresser.

Four members of staff at rights group Adhoc – Nay Vanda, Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan and Lim Mony, and Ny Chakrya, formerly of Adhoc and the National Election Committee – were detained in April 2016 following a claim from Kom Chandaraty that they had bribed her to deny the purported extramarital affair.

They were released on bail in late June last year after spending over a year in pre-trial detention. The case has been criticised as politically motivated, while the five have strenuously denied the allegations.
Sokha is currently being held in pre-trial detention on treason charges.

Asean Parliamentarians for Human Rights, Asian Network for Free Elections, Civicus, Human Rights Watch and Southeast Asian Press Alliance, yesterday issued a joint press release calling what they claim to be “fabricated” charges to be dropped.

“The Adhoc 5 case is emblematic of the absurd legal harassment that activists and human rights defenders face fighting for justice and human rights in Cambodia,” said Phil Robertson, the deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

Yi Soksan, one of the five, said yesterday that he would be the first to face the investigating judge on Monday morning to answer questions in order to have the charges dropped.

He said he and the other Adhoc workers had only performed human rights and social work in line with the organisation’s procedures and with permission from the Ministry of Interior since it began operating in 1991.

“We did our usual activities – helping victims. We believe the court will drop the charges against us, people who only work to solve social problems.

“We consider human rights work like the work of the Red Cross and lawyers and doctors. We help people who receive injustice, without political discrimination,” he said.

Ministry of Justice spokesman Chin Malin said the Adhoc 5 case was different from the recent cases in which the convicted had received pardons from King Norodom Sihamoni after a request from prime minister-designate Hun Sen because they have yet to face trial.

“Only the court can drop the charges. If the [defendants] provide new evidence, arguments and testimony, and can prove to the court that they are not guilty, then the court can drop the charges.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Phnom Penh placed in two-week lockdown

    The government has decided to place Phnom Penh in lockdown for two weeks, effective April 14 midnight through April 28, as Cambodia continues to grapple with the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen no sign of subsiding. According to a directive signed by Prime Minister

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Culture ministry: Take Tuol Sleng photos down, or else

    The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has told Irish photographer Matt Loughrey to take down the photos of Khmer Rouge victims at Tuol Sleng Genocidal Museum which he allegedly colourised and altered to show them smiling. The ministry said Loughrey's work is unacceptable, affecting

  • Cambodia gears up for muted New Year festival

    The recent curfew and restrictions imposed in the capital and other Covid-19 hotspots were intended to break the chain of transmission, Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said as municipal and provincial authorities issued new directives banning certain activities during the upcoming Khmer New Year

  • Covid-19 vaccination now obligatory

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on April 11 issued a sub-decree making Covid-19 vaccination compulsory for individuals unless they have a medical certificate proving they have pre-existing health conditions that prevent them from doing so. «This applies to all members of the armed forces and civil servants