A Phnom Penh Municipal Court deputy prosecutor said yesterday that he has decided to charge prominent human rights monitor Ny Chakrya in a case that rights groups have described as a bald-faced attempt to suppress criticism of the Kingdom’s judiciary.
The case stems from two Siem Reap Provincial Court officials – investigating judge Ky Rithy and deputy prosecutor Sok Keo Bandith – who filed a complaint against Chakrya, accusing him of public defamation, acts of slanderous defamation and putting pressure on the court’s jurisdiction after Chakrya conducted two press conferences speaking out on what he characterised as the court’s illegal detention of two villagers involved in a land dispute.
Deputy Phnom Penh prosecutor Seang Sok said yesterday that after reviewing the case, he had decided to lay charges against Chakrya, and had forwarded the case to the investigating judge on Saturday.
“The investigative judge will make the decision as to whether to continue the procedure or not,” he said.
Chakrya, head of the human rights and legal aid section at rights group Adhoc, said he would “follow the procedure”, but maintained that he had committed no wrong, and condemned the case against him as an attempt to intimidate human rights activists.
He and another Adhoc employee, lawyer Pouk Yarann, had accused the two officials of unlawfully detaining two villagers – since convicted – for inciting fellow land disputants to destroy the property of Community Takhmao Development Agricultural & Industrial.
Chakrya later filed a complaint against Keo Bandith and Rithy accusing them of a lack of independence in their handling of the case.
The two men and their attorney, Chan Vichet, could not be reached.
However, Keo Bandith has maintained they have “adequate evidence for arresting and detaining the two suspects; [and were] not afraid of facing the law if Adhoc found evidence” of wrongdoing.
A probe into the land dispute led by the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee also found the two were wrongly imprisoned, and blamed the dispute on “local and provincial maladministration”.
Chakrya’s fellow rights monitor Am Sam Ath, technical supervisor at Licadho, yesterday said Chakrya had been within his rights in criticising the conduct of the court.
“If the court is still working against him, it shows clearly the risks and the dangers of NGO officials that [make] demands of law enforcement, and that respect for democracy in this country is being threatened gradually,” he said.