Fri, 16 Nov 2018
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Hanoi

Cambodia: Free All Political Prisoners

Human Rights Watch
12 Sep 2018, 12:12 GMT+10

(New York) - The Cambodian government should immediately and unconditionally release all those detained for peacefully exercising their fundamental rights, Human Rights Watch said today in launching a new webpage. Political Prisoners Cambodia profiles 30 current and recent political prisoners in Cambodia. Twenty-one were released as Prime Minister Hun Sen attempts to regain international legitimacy after sham elections in July.

Political prisoners and pre-trial detainees include members and supporters of the dissolved main opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP); activists; human rights defenders; and journalists reporting for independent media outlets. Each has been detained or convicted and imprisoned for criticizing or otherwise running afoul of Hun Sen or the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP). Most recently, on August 31, 2018, Australian filmmaker James Ricketson, 69, was convicted of espionage and sentenced to six years in prison apparently for making disparaging remarks about Hun Sen and the CPP.

"Cambodia has jailed a Who's Who of prominent critics of Hun Sen and his ruling party," said Brad Adams, Asia director. "The government should immediately release all political prisoners and drop all charges, including against opposition leader Kem Sokha. Hun Sen should commit to ending the arrest of critics, which he continues to use to prop up his dictatorial rule."

Kem Sokha, leader of the opposition CNRP, which was dissolved in 2017 by the government-controlled Supreme Court. A longtime member of parliament and human rights activist, Sokha was arbitrarily arrested on September 3, 2017 on fabricated treason charges. He was held in a remote prison near the border with Vietnam. On September 10, 2018, Sokha was released from prison and placed under house arrest. The court banned Sokha from meeting with "former officials of the Cambodian National Rescue Party ... foreigners, especially those who may be involved in this case" and ordered him to "refrain from a political meeting or other political activities..." Treason charges and the threat of a long prison sentence remain.

Those wrongfully convicted and imprisoned include:

Chao Veasna, Poipet's former commune council deputy chief from the opposition Sam Rainsy Party (one of two parties that combined to form the CNRP), was convicted in 2017 of incitement and intentional damage with aggravating circumstances. He was sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to pay approximately US$15,000 in damages. The case followed a protest in Poipet in 2015 at which Veasna was not present in which gendarmes fired shots to disperse protesters and seriously beat a protester. Sam Sokha, a labor activist, was convicted in absentia in January 2018 on charges including "insulting a public official" after she threw a shoe at a CPP election billboard in April 2017. She fled to Thailand where the United Nations refugee agency granted her refugee status. In February, Thai officials forcibly returned her to Cambodia, where she was arrested and sentenced to two years in prison.

Since sham elections in July 2018 in which the CPP took all 125 seats in the National Assembly, King Norodom Sihamoni has pardoned 16 political prisoners at the request of Hun Sen. Three others, who had been convicted but had not begun to serve their prison sentences, also received pardons. Although Sihamoni has the constitutional authority to issue pardons on his own, to date he has only acted upon Hun Sen's request.

Many of the released prisoners still have other charges pending against them. Hun Sen has publicly threatened the re-arrest of those released if they continue to criticize the government or fail to pay court-imposed fines related to their convictions. In one case, Hun Sen publicly stated that Kim Sok, a political commentator released on August 17 after serving 18 months in prison on charges of incitement and defamation, would be sent back to prison if he didn't pay damages to Hun Sen of approximately US$200,000 imposed at the time of his conviction. After his release, Kim Sok said he would continue to speak out against the government and in favor of democracy. On August 28, a Phnom Penh judge issued a summons for Kim Sok to appear on September 14 on second charges of defamation and incitement.

"The threat of being sent back to prison on other charges shows that the recent releases are just a piece of political theater and does not represent any change in Hun Sen's approach to critics," Adams said. "Kim Sok is being threatened with being sent back to prison simply for saying he would continue to criticize the government." June 27, 2018 Report Cambodia's Dirty Dozen A Long History of Rights Abuses by Hun Sen's Generals

Download the full report in English

Cambodia's Criminal Code includes criminal offenses that seriously undermine the right to freedom of expression, such as criminal defamation, insulting government officials, discrediting judicial decisions, and a newly enacted lese majeste law. Since 2017, the government has also passed several new laws that have further restricted the rights to freedom of expression and association.

Cambodia has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which enshrines the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association. Cambodian authorities routinely misuse the courts, which lack judicial independence, to target members of the political opposition, civil society activists, and journalists, Human Rights Watch said. Trials, particularly those resulting from politically motivated charges, systematically violate the fair trial rights of defendants.

"Cambodia's trading partners and donors should tell the government that it must stop harassing and prosecuting critics and immediately release those unjustly held," Adams said. "They need to make it clear to Hun Sen that it will not be business as usual so long as the government is holding political prisoners."

Political Prisoners in Cambodia

Total as of September 10, 2018: 10 political prisoners serving prison sentences or held in pre-trial detention. Another 16 individuals have recently been released from prison, four of whom still face politically motivated criminal charges.

Venerable Horn Sophanny, 25

Venerable Horn Sophanny is an activist member of the Independent Monk Network for Social Justice, a group led by monk But Buntenh. Authorities arrested and defrocked Sophanny on June 21, 2017. He was charged with illegal possession of a weapon after he had posted a photo of himself on social media posing with a toy gun, accompanied by a statement that he needed a gun to protect himself from what he called Prime Minister Hun Sen's upcoming "civil war" during the 2018 elections. On December 19, 2017, the Battambang Provincial Court convicted Sophanny of inciting the commission of a felony (article 495 of the Criminal Code) and sentenced him to two years in prison.

Heng Leakhena (also known as Hin Van Sreypov), 37

Heng Leakhena (also known as Hin Van Sreypov), a former CNRP member, was arrested on July 12, 2017, at a local bus station after she had posted on Facebook a video in which she accused Prime Minister Hun Sen of ordering the murder of prominent political commentator Kem Ley. On January 11, 2018, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court convicted her of inciting the commission of a felony (article 495 of the Criminal Code) and sentenced her to one-year in prison and a one million riel fine (US$250).

Sam Sokha, 38

Sam Sokha, a labor and opposition activist, was seen in an April 2017 video throwing her shoe at a CPP campaign billboard that contained photos of Prime Minister Hun Sen and National Assembly President Heng Samrin. The 13-second video went viral on social media.

Sokha fled to Thailand after government called for her arrest. She received refugee status from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). On January 25, 2018, the Kampong Speu Provincial Court convicted her in absentia of insulting a public official and incitement to discriminate (articles 494, 496 and 502 of the Criminal Code) and sentenced her to two years in prison and a fine of 5 million riels (US$1,250).

Despite her protected status as a refugee, Thai authorities arrested her and, over UNHCR and diplomatic objections, forcibly returned her to Cambodia on February 8, 2018. On February 9, Cambodian officials transferred her to Kampong Speu provincial prison to start serving her sentence.

Sokha sought a retrial, demanding the opportunity to be present in court to defend herself. However, in March the Kampong Speu Provincial Court upheld her conviction and sentence.

Chhun Sithi

Chhun Sithi, a CNRP commune councilor in Stung Kach commune, Pailin province, was arrested on October 24, 2017, a day after he posted a video clip on social media with a message to Prime Minister Hun Sen stating that he would not defect to the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) even if the main opposition party, the CNRP, was dissolved or he was stripped of his position. On March 23, 2018, the Pailin Provincial Court convicted him of inciting the commission of a felony (article 495 of the Criminal Code) and insulting a public official (article 502). The court sentenced him to one year in prison with a fine of eight million riels (US$2,000).

Chao Veasna, 54

Chao Veasna, an ethnic Khmer Krom, was a Poipet commune council deputy chief from the Candlelight Party (renamed from the Sam Rainsy Party after the law changed to ban the use of a person's name in the name of a political party). During an anti-government protest outside the Poipet customs office in May 2015 at which Veasna was not present, military police fired warning shots to disperse protesters and seriously beat one protester. With commune elections scheduled for June 2017, on February 16, 2017, a Banteay Meanchey Provincial Court investigating judge questioned Veasna for four hours and sent him to Banteay Meanchey provincial prison in connection with the May 2015 protest. Veasna was charged with inciting the commission of a felony (articles 494 and 495 of the Criminal Code) and, as an accomplice, with intentional damage with aggravating circumstances (general aggravation and in relation to status of the victim) (articles 29, 410, 411 and 412), as well as with intentional damage with aggravating circumstances (using dangerous means and causing injury) (articles 413 and 414). On June 7, 2018, the Provincial Court convicted and sentenced Veasna to five years' imprisonment. He was also ordered to pay a total of approximately US$15,000 for damages to the customs office building and several cars.

James Ricketson, 69

James Ricketson, an Australian filmmaker, was arrested on June 3, 2017, on fabricated charges of "stealing information." Authorities photographed him flying a drone without a permit over a political rally staged by the CNRP. On June 9, 2017, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court charged Ricketson with espionage (article 446 of the Criminal Code), claiming he gathered information for a foreign power that could damage national security. After a seven-day trial, on August 31, 2018, the Phnom Penh Court convicted him of espionage (articles 439 and 446) and sentenced him to six years in prison.

Ismail Pin Osman, 45

Ismail Pin Osman was a reserve National Assembly candidate for the CNRP in Kampong Cham province in the 2013 national election. He is a member of the ethnic Cham Muslim community. He was arrested by anti-trafficking police in Phnom Penh's Russey Keo district on February 9, 2018, after returning from Thailand, where he had fled under pressure from authorities to defect to the ruling CPP. He is currently in pre-trial detention on charges of unlawfully removing female workers for cross-border transfer (article 11 of the Law on Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation). If convicted, he faces from 7 to 15 years in prison.

Kheang Navy, 50

Kheang Navy, a primary school headteacher in Cambodia's Kampong Thom province, was arrested on May 13, 2018. Police questioned him for hours without a lawyer present. He remains in pre-trial detention and faces 1-5 five years in prison, a large fine for a May 12, 2018 social media post blaming the king and the Cambodian royal family for the 2017 dissolution of Cambodia's main opposition party, the CNRP, as well as for the "loss of Khmer land." Navy allegedly posted the comment on the Facebook page of a Kampong Thom government official who had attended a celebration of King Norodom Sihamoni's birthday in Kampong Thom province. Under article 437 bis, the new lese majeste law, prosecutors may bring a criminal lawsuit on behalf of the monarchy against anyone deemed to have insulted the royal family.

Ban Samphy, 70

On May 13, 2018, Ban Samphy, former head of the CNRP in Siem Reap province, shared a post on Facebook that included a photo of Prime Minister Hun Sen and his wife, Bun Rany, and a photo of King Norodom Sihamoni, accompanied by a video clip of angry villagers affected by flooding. His post compared the king unfavorably to Cambodia's former kings. On May 20, 2018, the police in Chikreng district, Kampong Kdey commune, Siem Reap province, arrested Samphy and questioned him. The investigating judge of the Siem Reap Provincial Court charged Samphy the same day with "insult of the king" (article 437 bis of Cambodia's Criminal Code), which carries a punishment of up to five years in prison. He is currently in pre-trial detention.

Political Prisoners Under House Arrest

Kem Sokha, 65, released on bail on September 10, 2018 but placed under house arrest

Kem Sokha, leader of the now dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) and a member of the National Assembly, was arrested around midnight on September 3, 2017 at his house in Phnom Penh. Eight Prime Minister bodyguard unit officers led a contingent of more than 100 police to carry out the arrest. In a highly unusual move, authorities immediately sent him to the remote Trapeang Phlong prison (Correctional Center 3), in Tbaung Khmom province near the border with Vietnam. On the basis of a false allegation that he had committed a crime in flagrante delicto (caught in the act of committing a crime), the National Assembly stripped him of his parliamentary immunity.

On September 5, 2017, prosecutors charged him with conspiring with a foreign power (article 443 of the Criminal Code). If convicted, he faces 15-30 years in prison. Sokha's arrest came after Hun Sen accused him of plotting to topple the government with support from the United States based on a highly edited videotape of a speech Sokha gave in Australia in 2013. On May 26, 2018, the court summoned eight individuals - including members of nongovernmental organizations - to appear for questioning as witnesses in Sokha's case.

On April 19, 2018, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in its Opinion No. 9/2018 declared Kem Sokha's detention "arbitrary" and "politically motivated."

Sokha had been previously convicted in 2016 on politically motivated charges for failure to appear as a witness against two CNRP parliamentary members detained in a fabricated prostitution case. The court sentenced him to five months in prison, but he remained under de facto house arrest, surrounded by CNRP supporters and police outside CNRP headquarters until December 2016, when he received a royal pardon.

On September 10, 2018, Sokha was released from prison and placed under house arrest. The court order specifically bans Sokha from meeting with "former officials of the Cambodian National Rescue Party... foreigners, especially those who may be involved in this case" and orders him to "refrain from a political meeting or other political activities..." Treason charges remain in force. If Sokha conducts any political activities or misses a court appearance he will be sent back to prison.

Recently Released Political Prisoners

Uon Chhin, 49, released on bail August 21, 2018

Uon Chhin, a former Radio Free Asia (RFA) cameraman, was arrested on November 14, 2017, in Phnom Penh, on the same day as his colleague Yeang Sothearin. The arrests occurred two months after the RFA shut down its Cambodia operations, alleging government harassment of its reporters. Prosecutors filed baseless espionage charges, accusing Chhin and Sothearin of illegally setting up a broadcast studio with the purpose of continuing to file news reports for RFA's headquarters in Washington, DC. On November 18, 2017, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court formally charged Chhin with supplying a foreign state with information prejudicial to Cambodia's national defense (article 445 of the Criminal Code). If convicted, he faces between 7 to 15 years in prison. The court has repeatedly denied his bail requests.

In March 2018, prosecutors brought unfounded charges against Chhin and Sothearin that they produced pornography in violation of the Law on the Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation. If convicted of these additional charges, they face 16 years in prison.

While Chhin was released on August 21, 2018, the charges against him were not dropped.

Yeang Sothearin, 35, released on bail August 21, 2018

Yeang Sothearin (also known as Yeang Socheameta), Radio Free Asia's (RFA) former Phnom Penh bureau office manager and a news editor, was arrested on November 14, 2017, in Phnom Penh on the same day as his colleague Uon Chhin. The arrests occurred two months after the RFA shut down its Cambodia operations, alleging government harassment of its reporters. Prosecutors filed baseless espionage charges, accusing Sothearin and Chhin of illegally setting up a broadcast studio with the purpose of continuing to file news reports for RFA's headquarters in Washington, DC. The Phnom Penh Municipal Court charged Sothearin on November 18, 2017, with supplying a foreign state with information prejudicial to Cambodia's national defense (article 445 of the Criminal Code). He faces 7 to 15 years in prison if convicted and has been repeatedly denied bail since his arrest.

In March 2018, prosecutors brought unfounded charges against Chhin and Sothearin that they produced pornography in violation of the Law on the Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation. If convicted of these additional charges, they face 16 years in prison.

While Sothearin was released on August 21, 2018, the charges against him were not dropped.

Kim Sok, 37, released on August 17, 2018 after serving his prison sentence

Kim Sok, a political commentator, was arrested on February 17, 2017, and charged with criminal defamation and incitement based on a complaint filed by Prime Minister Hun Sen. The charges stemmed from an interview he gave to Radio Free Asia in which he alluded to the alleged involvement of the ruling CPP in the murder of prominent political commentator Kem Ley in July 2016. On August 10, 2017, a court convicted Sok of defamation (article 305 of the Criminal Code) and inciting the commission of a felony (articles 494 and 495) and sentenced him to 18 months in prison and a fine of 8 million riels (US$2,000) to be paid to the government and 800 million riels ($200,000) in damages to be paid to the CPP. On November 17, 2017, the Court of Appeal upheld both his conviction and sentence. On July 2, 2018, the Supreme Court also upheld the verdict. A second defamation complaint filed by Hun Sen is pending at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

On August 17, 2018, Kim Sok was released after serving his sentence. After his release Kim Sok said he would continue to speak out against the government and in favor of democracy. On August 28, a Phnom Penh judge issued a summons for Kim Sok to appear on September 14 on second charges of defamation and incitement. Kim Sok reportedly fled Cambodia to avoid arrest.

Tep Vanny, 36, released on August 20, 2018, but convicted four days later in a separate case - enforcement of that suspended prison sentence is pending appeal

Tep Vanny is a prominent community land rights activist in Phnom Penh and the recipient of the 2013 Vital Voices Global Leadership Award.

Vanny long opposed the government's now completed plan to drain Boeung Kak lake for high-end residences and commercial properties, which the city rented to Shukaku Inc., a private company led by ruling CPP Senator Lao Meng Khin. Authorities arrested her on August 15, 2016, during a peaceful protest. On August 22, 2016, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court convicted Vanny and Bov Sophea, a fellow community member, of insulting a public official (article 502 of the Criminal Code) and sentenced them both to the six days they had already served in pre-trial detention.

The authorities then restarted long-dormant politically motivated charges against Vanny. On September 19, 2016, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court convicted Vanny and three other Boeung Kak lake community members (Kong Chantha, Bo Chhorvy, and Heng Mom) for obstructing a public official with aggravating circumstances and insulting a public official (articles 502 and 504) and sentenced them to six months in prison. The charges stemmed from their participation in a protest in November 2011 outside the Phnom Penh municipality office, where they demanded justice in the Boeung Kak land dispute. On February 23, 2017, the Court of Appeal upheld their conviction and prison sentence. On December 8, 2017, the Supreme Court agreed, though the Supreme Court's presiding judge left the enforcement of the prison sentence to the discretion of the prosecutor, so none of the four women have yet served their prison sentence.

For Vanny's participation in a protest outside Hun Sen's house in March 2013, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court convicted her on February 23, 2017 of intentional violence with aggravating circumstances (article 218) and sentenced her to two and a half years in prison and a fine of 5 million riels (approximately US$1,250). The court also ordered Vanny to pay compensation of 9 million riels (approximately $2,250) to two security guards, the plaintiffs who alleged injury. The court denied consideration of video evidence showing that the two security guards were responsible for the violence, in a trial that otherwise did not meet international fair trial standards. On August 8, 2017, the Phnom Penh Court of Appeal upheld the ruling, as did the Supreme Court on February 8, 2018.

On August 23, 2018, Tep Vanny was released after a royal pardon granted by King Norodom Sihamoni. Four days later, on August 27, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court convicted her and five fellow community members of making death threats related to a community dispute. Although the complainant retracted her complaint, the prosecutor and investigating judge continued to pursue the case. The court sentenced all six to suspended six-month prison sentences; the suspension is conditional for five years, during which the sentence may be enforced against any of the defendants who are found guilty of having committed a crime.

Sourn Serey Ratha, 44, released on August 23, 2018

Sourn Serey Ratha, a dual Cambodian-US citizen, is the founder and president of the Khmer People Power Movement (KPPM) and later the Khmer Power Party (KPP). He was arrested on August 13, 2017 for criticizing the deployment of Cambodian troops to the Lao border during a trip by Prime Minister Hun Sen to Laos in mid-2017 to settle a border dispute between the two countries. On August 14, authorities charged Ratha with inciting military personnel to disobedience (article 471 of the Criminal Code), demoralizing the army (article 472) and inciting the commission of a felony (articles 494). On August 25, 2017, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court convicted Ratha and sentenced him to five years in prison and fined him 10 million riels (US$2,500). On October 12, 2017, the Court of Appeal upheld his conviction. On May 18, 2018, the Supreme Court also did.

The government has labelled Ratha's KPPM party a terrorist group. While in self-imposed exile in 2015, a court convicted Ratha in absentia for endangering government institutions or violating the integrity of the national territory (article 453) and of using force or violence to deter eligible voters from voting (article 124 of the Law on Election of Members of the National Assembly). The court sentenced him to seven years in prison. Upon Hun Sen's request, King Sihamoni pardoned Ratha on July 10, 2015, thereby allowing him to return to Cambodia without fear of imprisonment. In March 2015, the Ministry of Interior gave permission to Ratha to form a political party to contest in the elections: Ratha formed the Khmer Power Party.

In December 2015, Ratha filed a complaint against Foreign Minister Hor Namhong for defamation and incitement because the minister had failed to write an official apology letter, recanting his allegation that his KPP party had committed terrorist acts.

On May 15, 2018, Ratha posted a letter on his Facebook page, apologizing to Prime Minister Hun Sen and the Royal Armed Forces and seeking a pardon. He was released on August 23, 2018 after a royal pardon granted by King Norodom Sihamoni based on a request by Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Um Sam An, 44, released on August 25, 2018

Um Sam An is a dual US-Cambodian national and a former Member of Parliament of the now-dissolved CNRP. In May 2015, Sam An left Cambodia for the United States to seek evidence that would substantiate his allegations that Prime Minister Hun Sen had used the wrong maps to demarcate the Cambodia-Vietnam border. He was arrested on his return to Cambodia on April 11, 2016, on the basis of a post he made on Facebook that included his findings on the politically contentious dispute. Although covered by parliamentary immunity, prosecutors used a loophole in the law - permitting prosecutions for crimes in flagrante delicto (caught in the act), to bring him to trial. The Phnom Penh Municipal Court convicted Sam An on October 10, 2016 of inciting the commission of a felony (article 495 of the Criminal Code) and inciting racial discrimination (article 496) and sentenced him to two and a half years in prison. The court also fined him 4 million riels (US$1000). On October 27, 2017, the Supreme Court upheld his conviction and prison sentence. After further appeals, the Supreme Court again upheld the conviction and prison sentence.

On August 25, 2018, Sam An was released after a royal pardon granted by King Norodom Sihamoni.

An Batham, 37, released on August 28, 2018

An Batham is a Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) youth member. He is one of the 14 officials, supporters, and activists of Cambodia's dissolved opposition party, the CNRP, and was convicted of politically motivated insurrection charges for events that occurred in July 2014 during a CNRP-led protest. On July 21, 2015, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court convicted Batham of participating in an insurrectionary movement (articles 456 and 457 of the Criminal Code), in a trial that did not meet international fair trial standards, and sentenced him to seven years in prison. On May 20, 2018, the Phnom Penh Court of Court of Appeal upheld both his conviction and prison sentence.

On August 28, 2018, Batham was released after a royal pardon granted by King Norodom Sihamoni.

Ke Khim, 35, released on August 28, 2018

Ke Khim is a CNRP supporter. He is one of the 14 members of Cambodia's now-dissolved CNRP convicted of politically motivated insurrection charges for events that occurred in July 2014 during a CNRP-led protest. On July 21, 2015, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court sentenced him to seven years in prison for participating in an insurrectionary movement (articles 456 and 457 of the Criminal Code) in a trial that did not meet international fair trial standards. After hearings from April 21 to 23, 2018, the Phnom Penh Court of Appeal ruled on May 20 to uphold both the conviction and prison sentence.

On August 28, 2018, Khim was released after a royal pardon granted by King Norodom Sihamoni.

Khin Chamreun, 34, released on August 28, 2018

Khin Chamreun is a CNRP Phnom Penh youth chief. He is one of the 14 officials, supporters and activists of the dissolved CNRP who were convicted on politically motivated insurrection charges for helping lead a CNRP-led protest in July 2014. The Phnom Penh Municipal Court convicted Chamreun in July 2015 of participating in and leading an "insurrectionary" movement (articles 456, 457, and 459 of the Criminal Code) in a trial that did not meet international fair trial standards. The court sentenced him to 20 years in prison. In April 2018, the Phnom Penh Court of Appeal upheld both his conviction and prison sentence.

On August 28, 2018, Chamreun was released after a royal pardon granted by King Norodom Sihamoni.

Meach Sovannara, 47, released on August 28, 2018

Meach Sovannara was a CNRP candidate for parliament from Banteay Meanchey province and is a dual Cambodian and US national. He is one of the 14 officials, supporters and activists of Cambodia's now-dissolved opposition CNRP convicted of politically motivated insurrection charges connected to July 2014 protests in Phnom Penh. On July 21, 2015, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court convicted Sovannara of participating in and leading an insurrectionary movement (articles 456, 457, and 459 of the criminal code), in a trial that did not meet international fair trial standards. The court sentenced him to 20 years in prison. The Phnom Penh Court of Appeal upheld his conviction and sentence on May 20, 2018.

On March 26, 2018, Prime Minister Hun Sen scolded officials of Correctional Center 1 for allegedly allowing Sovannara to use a mobile phone in prison and ordered them to remove it "immediately," while telling Sovannara he would never "come out."

On August 28, 2018, Sovannara was released after a royal pardon granted by King Norodom Sihamoni.

Neang Sokhun, 34, released on August 28, 2018

Neang Sokhun is a CNRP Chhbar Ampov district youth leader. He is one of the 14 officials, supporters and activists of the now-dissolved CNRP convicted of politically motivated insurrection charges in connection with July 2014 protests led by the CNRP. The Phnom Penh Municipal court convicted Sokhun on July 21, 2015, on charges of participating in an insurrectionary movement (articles 456 and 457 of the criminal code). The Phnom Penh Court of Appeal upheld his conviction and sentence on May 20, 2018.

On August 28, 2018, Sokhun was released after a royal pardon granted by King Norodom Sihamoni.

Oeur Narith, 38, released on August 28, 2018

Oeur Narith is one of the 14 CNRP officials, supporters and activists convicted of politically motivated insurrection charges in connection with a CNRP-led protest in July 2014 in Phnom Penh. The Phnom Penh Municipal Court convicted Narith, a CNRP public affairs officer, of participating in and leading an insurrectionary movement (articles 456, 457, and 459 of the criminal code), in a trial that violated the defendant's fair trial rights and sentenced him to 20 years' imprisonment. The Phnom Penh Court of Appeal upheld the conviction and sentence in a ruling released on May 20, 2018.

On August 28, 2018, Narith was released after a royal pardon granted by King Norodom Sihamoni.

Ouk Pich Samnang, 54, released on August 28, 2018

Ouk Pich Samnang is one of the 14 officials, supporters and activists of the now-dissolved CNRP convicted on politically motivated insurrection charges in connection with a CNRP-led protest in July 2014. The Phnom Penh Municipal Court found him guilty of participating in an insurrectionary movement (articles 456 and 457 of the Criminal Code) and sentenced him to seven years in prison. Both the conviction and prison sentence were upheld by the Phnom Penh Court of Appeal on May 20, 2018.

Authorities harassed Samnang in a separate case related to an October 2014 protest outside Hun Sen's house. A farming community from Preah Vihear province protested and demanded that the government help solve their land dispute. On September 10, 2015, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court convicted Samnang of committing intentional violence and obstructing authorities despite the prosecutors' failure to present evidence of wrongdoing. The judge sentenced him to two years in prison and ordered him to pay 10 million riels (US$2,500) in damages to pay for medical treatment of injured security guards and damaged Daun Penh district security equipment. On July 20, 2016, the Phnom Penh Court of Appeal upheld his conviction and prison sentence.

On August 28, 2018, Samnang was released after a royal pardon granted by King Norodom Sihamoni.

San Kimheng, 31, released on August 28, 2018

San Kimheng is a CNRP district youth leader from Tuol Kork in Phnom Penh. He is one of the 14 officials, supporters and activists of the now-dissolved CNRP convicted of politically motivated insurrection for events that occurred in July 2014 during a CNRP-led protest. On July 21, 2015, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court convicted Kimheng of participating in an insurrectionary movement (articles 456 and 457 of the Criminal Code), in a trial that did not meet international fair trial standards and sentenced him to seven years in prison. After appeal hearings from April 21 to 23, 2018, the Phnom Penh Court of Appeal upheld both the conviction and prison sentence on May 20.

On August 28, 2018, Kimheng was released after a royal pardon granted by King Norodom Sihamoni.

San Seikhak, 31, August 28, 2018

San Seikhak is a CNRP youth member. He is one of the 14 officials, supporters and activists of the now-dissolved CNRP convicted of politically motivated insurrection charges for events that occurred in July 2014 during a CNRP-led protest. Along with the others, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court convicted Seikhak on July 21, 2015, of participating in an insurrectionary movement (articles 456 and 457 of the Criminal Code), in a trial that did not meet international fair trial standards. The court sentenced Seikhak to seven years in prison. After appeal hearings from April 21 to 23, 2018, the Phnom Penh Court of Appeal on May 20 upheld both the conviction and prison sentence.

On August 28, 2018, Seikhak was released after a royal pardon granted by King Norodom Sihamoni.

Sum Puthy, 50, released on August 28, 2018

Sum Puthy is a CNRP Chhbar Ampov district council member. He is one of the 14 officials, supporters and activists of Cambodia's now-dissolved CNRP convicted of politically motivated insurrection charges for events that occurred in July 2014 during a CNRP-led protest. With the others, Puthy was tried on July 21, 2015 in a judicial process that did not meet international fair trial standards. The Phnom Penh Municipal Court convicted Puthy of participating in an insurrectionary movement (articles 456 and 457 of the Criminal Code) and sentenced him to seven years' imprisonment. After appeal hearings from April 21 to 23, 2018, the Court of Appeal on May 20 upheld both his conviction and prison sentence.

On August 28, 2018, Puthy was released after a royal pardon granted by King Norodom Sihamoni.

Tep Narin, 31, released on August 28, 2018

Tep Narin is a CNRP youth member. He is one of the 14 officials, supporters and activists of Cambodia's now-dissolved CNRP convicted of politically motivated insurrection charges for events that occurred during a July 2014 CNRP-led protest. On July 21, 2015, Narin was convicted by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court of participating in an "insurrectionary" movement (articles 456 and 457 of the Criminal Code), in a speedy trial that violated the defendant's fair trial rights and sentenced to seven years' imprisonment. After appeal hearings from April 21 to 23, 2018, the Phnom Penh Court of Appeal upheld on May 20 both the conviction and prison sentence.

On August 28, 2018, Narin was released after a royal pardon granted by King Norodom Sihamoni.

Roeun Chetra, 34, released on August 28, 2018

Roeun Chetra is a CNRP youth member. He is one of the 14 officials, supporters and activists of the now-dissolved opposition CNRP who was convicted of politically motivated insurrection charges for events that occurred in July 2014 during a CNRP-led protest. Authorities arrested Chetra, on August 4, 2015. On June 13, 2016, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court convicted him of participation in an insurrectionary movement (article 457 of the Criminal Code), intentional acts of violence (article 218) and inciting the commission of a felony (article 495), in a trial that did not meet international fair trial standards and sentenced him to seven years' imprisonment.

On August 28, 2018, Chetra was released after a royal pardon granted by King Norodom Sihamoni.

Yea Thong, 27, released on August 28, 2018

Yea Thong is a CNRP youth member. He is one of the 14 officials, supporters and activists of the dissolved CNRP convicted of politically motivated insurrection charges connected to events during a CNRP-led protest in July 2014. Authorities arrested him on August 4, 2015. The Phnom Penh Municipal Court convicted him on June 13, 2016, on charges of participation in an insurrectionary movement (article 457 of the Criminal Code), intentional acts of violence (article 218) and inciting the commission of a felony (article 495) and sentenced him to seven years in prison after a trial that did not meet international fair trial standards.

On August 28, 2018, Thong was released after a royal pardon granted by King Norodom Sihamoni.

Yun Kimhour, 29, released on August 28, 2018

Yun Kimhour is a CNRP youth member. He is one of the 14 officials, supporters and activists of the now-dissolved CNRP convicted of politically motivated insurrection charges connected to a July 2014 CNRP-led protest. Authorities arrested him on August 4, 2015. On June 13, 2016, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court convicted Kimhour of participating in an insurrectionary movement (article 457 of the Criminal Code), intentional acts of violence (article 218), and inciting the commission of a felony (article 495) and sentenced to seven years in prison. The trial failed to meet international fair trial standards.

On August 28, 2018, Kimhour was released after a royal pardon granted by King Norodom Sihamoni.

Source: Human Rights Watch

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