Amnesty International has today expressed its concern over the latest conviction of two housing rights activists based on fabricated charges by Phnom Penh’s Municipal Court. The humanitarian organization has stressed that these actions confirms the dire state of Cambodia’s justice system and rule of law in the country.
According to the announcement, Yorm Bopha was today sentenced to three years imprisonment for ‘intentional violence’, while late yesterday Tim Sakmony was found guilty of making a false declaration and given a suspended prison sentence. The charges in both cases are fabricated and no credible evidence was presented at their trials.
As Amnesty International’s researcher on Cambodia, Rupert Abbott stated: “These shocking verdicts show why Cambodians have good reason not to trust their courts. Amnesty International has designated Tim Sakmony and Yorm Bopha as prisoners of conscience. They are being persecuted purely for their work defending the rights of those in their communities who have lost their houses through forced evictions.”
Yorm Bopha has actively defended the right to housing for her community at Phnom Penh’s former Boeung Kak Lake, where some 20,000 people have been forcibly evicted since 2008.
Tim Sakmony protested the violent forced eviction of 300 families in her community in Phnom Penh’s Borei Keila in January 2012 and called for provision of the alternative housing promised to them.
In addition, the Appeals Court today upheld the 20-year sentences of Born Samnang and Sok Sam Ourn who were convicted for the killing of trade union leader Cha Vichea in 2004 based on forced confessions. As a result, the two men face a further 15 years in prison for a crime they did not commit.
More cases of injustice have taken place in Cambodia last year, causing Amnesty International’s great concern and as a result, the organization urged Cambodian government to end this mockery of justice.
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Journalist at New Europe