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NGOs seek access to jailed Koh Kong activists

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Mother Nature activists protest in Koh Kong province before their arrest in August. Photo supplied

NGOs seek access to jailed Koh Kong activists

A coalition of human rights groups filed a request on Thursday to the Ministry of Interior’s General Prison Department for permission to visit four environmental activists detained in the Koh Kong Provincial Prison since last year.

Three of those activists – Sun Mala, Try Sovikea and Lem Samnang from Mother Nature – were arrested in August over their opposition to sand dredging, while the fourth, Areng Valley conservationist Ven Vorn, was arrested in October for alleged “forest crimes”.

Suon Bunsak, chief of secretariat for the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC), said yesterday that 20 civil society organisations filed the letter to the Prison Department on January 28 but have yet to hear back.

“We express our sympathy for those who have been detained because [they were protecting] the national, social and shared interests,” Bunsak said.

Nu Savnea, the Prison Department’s deputy director, said yesterday that the letter was received on January 29, and that a response could not be expected until today.

“It has to wait for the director to make the decision,” he said.

Huon Many, director of the Koh Kong Provincial Court, said yesterday that the investigation has been completed for Vorn but not for the three Mother Nature activists.

Am Sam Ath, technical coordinator for rights group Licadho, said Ven Vorn’s prosecution is set to begin February 17.

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