21st HRC Regular Session – Oral Statement Item 10: Technical Assistance and Capacity Building – Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Cambodia, Mr. Surya Subedi
26 September 2012 11:39 am

Thank you, Madam President. FORUM-ASIA and its member organisations in Cambodia, the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC) and the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO), appreciate the Special Rapporteur’s reports, particularly the addendum on the situation of economic and other land concessions (A/HRC/21/63/Add.1), which highlights comprehensively the serious and widespread violations of human rights in the country – forcible confiscation of land, destruction of homes and property, as well as physical aggression and intimidation, including the use of firearms against individuals and communities. We are extremely disturbed that these chronic violations persist with impunity and stress that the situation has seen no alleviation with all the technical assistance and capacity building offered by this Council and the OHCHR.

Mr. Subedi, the Cambodian authorities’ judicial harassment against human rights defenders, community leaders and political opponents is now an established record. We register our strongest protest over the recent persecution and trial of Mam Sonando, the director of the independent Beehive Radio, who was charged of attempting an “insurrectionary movement”. We call on the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to exercise its utmost independence towards the acquittal of charges against him in its 1 October verdict.1 Furthermore, those involved in peaceful protests and campaigns on land and housing rights have been particularly targeted. In May 2012, 13 women activists from Boeung Kak were arbitrarily and violently arrested and sentenced to lengthy prison terms on baseless charges in a three-hour summary trial. Though the Appeal Court suspended the sentences and released them in June, their convictions were upheld and we urge that they be overturned by the Supreme Court. More recently, FORUM-ASIA called for the immediate release of land and housing rights activists Yorm Bopha and Tim Sakmony, who were arrested on 4 and 5 September respectively, on trumped-up criminal charges by the Cambodian authorities.2 Both women have been prominently involved in protests against forced evictions of residents from Boeung Kak and Borei Keila. We stress that their pre-trial detention is unwarranted and are disappointed that their bail has been refused. We urge that charges against them be dropped immediately.

Mr. Subedi, as you noted in your annual report to the 15th regular session of this Council in 2010, “the courts are not trusted by the people to provide impartial justice” (A/HRC/15/46, para. 42) and we again stress that the independence of the judiciary is key in ensuring the accountability and the rule of law in Cambodia. In this light, we strongly urge the government to respond as a matter of priority to your call for a time-frame and action plan for the implementation of your recommendations to strengthen the judiciary. Thank you, Mr. Subedi and Madam President.


[1] FORUM-ASIA, Article 19 & SEAPA, Joint Open Letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen on Arrest and Persecution of Mam Sonando, 30 July 2012, http://www.forum-asia.org/?p=15269; LICADHO, “Briefing Paper: The Mam Sonando Case Explained”, August 2012, http://www.licadho-cambodia.org/reports.php?perm=170

[2] FORUM-ASIA et al., Joint Press Statement, “Cambodia: Latest Detention of Women Land Activists: Rights Groups Call for Immediate Release, Condemn Government’s Ongoing Persecution of Human Rights Defenders”, 13 September 2012, http://www.forum-asia.org/?p=15338

Please click here to download the PDF file.