A Change of Guard

សូមស្តាប់វិទ្យុសង្គ្រោះជាតិ Please read more Khmer news and listen to CNRP Radio at National Rescue Party. សូមស្តាប់វីទ្យុខ្មែរប៉ុស្តិ៍/Khmer Post Radio.
Follow Khmerization on Facebook/តាមដានខ្មែរូបនីយកម្មតាម Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/khmerization.khmerican

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Cambodia: Sham Court Cases Undermine Rights

Sacravatoons no 2381 : ” The plastic Killers “

sacrava noo 2381
Hun Sen Using Justice System to Crack Down on Critics

Image: google
Born Samnang right and Sok Sam Oeun left facing lengthy prison term for a crime many rights observers believe they did not commit. The Hun Sen regime has displayed a well established pattern of selectively assassinating civil rights critics and political opponents as a means of silencing dissenting voices from both political opposition and within civil society at large in blatant defiance of Constitutional stipulations concerning fundamental rights and political pluralism. The regime is happy to entertain the appearance of the enjoyment of such constitutional privileges whilst at the same time firmly putting a lid on developments perceived to pose substantive threats to its seat of power. In this respect and context of political exclusion and repression the regime differs little from its murderous predecessor in the seventies albeit in consideration of scale and intensity as well as, more expediently, in all manners of cosmetic concessions granted in light of universal outcry against one of the worst transgressors of human rights in history.  Any social and political "stability" the country has been experiencing has been paid for with this heavy price in liberty consistently denied and scores of many a dissenter's life and dreams violently crushed. This appearance thus of relative 'oneness' and "stability" characterised by lively presence of civil society representatives and actors; by polite dialogues  and pressure groups, has not been permitted to override the regime's claim to political office or its propensity to extinguish the first sign of danger posed to that effect. Cambodia's staged and specious civil society and political pluralism has been a win-win opportunity all round for the ruling Cambodian People's Party who dictates the terms of what it alone is at liberty to define as political culture, civil liberty, human rights and social development through varying means, ranging from punitive physical violence, judicial threat and manipulation to streamlining mass information by way of outright censorship. It may surprise many observers to learn that not only the idea of a "fledgling democracy" is a farfetched claim, but in real terms of political governance, culture and leadership Cambodia has consistently lacked behind many of its immediate neighbours, including Vietnam who is governed by a more collective decision-making approach even if that particular type of governance or leadership style is still part and parcel of a single party state arrangement - School of Vice

Inmates at infamous "S21" [Security 21] or Tuol Sleng incarceration centre made to pose for photograph before meeting their certain execution. The striking resemblance between this tortuous image and the one above may entail and reveal far more than mere coincidence in captured memory -School of Vice [image reproduced] 

“The Cambodian government has no shame in using the courts as an arm of oppression. Instead of protecting rights, Cambodia’s judiciary is being used to suppress dissent and undermine justice.”
Brad Adams, Asia director

DECEMBER 27, 2012
(New York) – Two criminal cases decided in Phnom Penh on December 27, 2012, demonstrate the Cambodian government’s flagrant misuse of the justice system to undermine rights, Human Rights Watch said today.

Cambodia’s Court of Appeals upheld 20-year-sentences against Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun, convicted after a grossly unfair trial, for the 2004 murder of prominent labor leader Chea Vichea. In the second case, a trial court sentenced land rights activist, Yorm Bopha, 29, to three years in prison, along with members of her family on politically motivated charges for her efforts organizing peaceful protests against land evictions.

The government should facilitate a dismissal of the charges against the three defendants and promptly release them, Human Rights Watch said.

“The Cambodian government has no shame in using the courts as an arm of oppression,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Instead of protecting rights, Cambodia’s judiciary is being used to suppress dissent and undermine justice.”

After the ruling, Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun, who had been released from prison in 2009 after an international outcry, were taken into custody to serve the remainder of their sentences at Prey Sar Prison’s Correctional Center 1 in Phnom Penh.

“International pressure needs to be brought on Cambodia to reform,” Adams said. “Parties to the 1991 Paris Accords should not abdicate their commitment to take active and concrete action to address Cambodia’s dire human rights situation.”

The January 22, 2004 killing of Chea Vichea, the leader of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia, came amid a violent crackdown by the government to suppress the labor movement in Cambodia. The ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) was also seeking to address political weaknesses after the 2003 national elections, in which the CPP won less than a majority of the popular vote, Human Rights Watch said.

Police arrested Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun for the killing, but in subsequent hearings it became clearthat both were being used as scapegoats. The absence of credible evidence was apparent to the case’s original investigating judge, Hing Thirith, who on March 19, 2004, ordered the release of the two suspects despite allegedly having been instructed by a senior government official to forward the case to trial. However, three days later, the Supreme Council of Magistracy, the body ostensibly tasked with ensuring judicial independence, removed Hing Thirith from his position.

In August 2005, a court convicted Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun, and sentenced each to 20 years in prison after a trial that international observers regarded as unfair. In April 2007, the Court of Appeals upheld their convictions despite testimony from numerous witnesses supporting their alibis and the acknowledgement by the prosecutor that there was insufficient evidence. The ruling was strongly condemned internationally and by Cambodian civil society groups.

The Supreme Court returned the case to the Court of Appeals for retrial in 2008, and the two men were released on bail on January 1, 2009. On November 7, 2012, the Appeals Court held a three-hour hearing to retry their case. The court appeared to give no substantive consideration to evidence of culpability of government officials, but instead appeared to credit the coerced “confession” of Samnang on which the original judgment was in part based, and which Samnang has consistently repudiated in open testimony.

Chea Vichea’s brother Chea Mony in November said, “Myself, 99 percent I did not believe in the Cambodian court system. So I do not expect that the Court of Appeals will find the truth and justice for my elder brother in this case.”

In the Yorm Bopha case, the authorities on September 4, 2012, arrested Bohpa, a leader of the movement protesting mass evictions from Phnom Penh’s Boeng Kak area, and her husband after a street dispute that occurred after a man had stolen her car’s side mirrors. Bopha, her husband, and her brothers were accused of assaulting the man. In a quick trial, containing weak and contradictory witness statements, the four were convicted – the two brothers in absentia. Bopha was sentenced to three years in prison. The husband’s sentence was suspended and arrest warrants were issued for her brothers, who left the country. After the verdict, Bopha was returned to Prey Sar Prison Correctional Center 2 for women prisoners to serve her sentence. Another land rights activist, Tim Sakmony, was found guilty a day earlier of making a false declaration on problematic evidence and given a suspended prison sentence.
Cambodia has been ruled by Prime Minister Hun Sen and the CPP for over 27 years. Most Cambodian judges and prosecutors are CPP members, some serving as high-level party officials. Dith Munthy, the chief judge of the Cambodian Supreme Court, is a member of the CPP’s Permanent Committee of the Central Committee and the party’s six-person Standing Committee.

“It is difficult at this point for anyone to have any faith in Cambodia’s justice system,” Adams said. “Cambodia’s courts today are little more than an extension of Hun Sen and his ruling party.”

In a November report, Human Rights Watch included the case of Chea Vichea among multiple cases in which the government charged innocent people in high-profile cases to avoid investigating official involvement. The report demonstrated a pattern of impunity for more than 300 politically motivated killings in the past 20 years. The government’s poor record continued in 2012 with suspect investigations into the April 2012 killing of environmental activist Chut Wutty and a February 2012 shooting of three protesting workers, in which a senior government official, Chhouk Bandit, was implicated.

Human Rights Watch reiterated its recent callfor the Cambodian government to appoint an independent commission to monitor the functioning of the police, prosecutors, and judges to assess their compliance with international human rights standards­­ – both in cases involving government-linked perpetrators and those involving possibly politically motivated prosecutions of civil society activists, journalists, and others. Such a commission could investigate the killing of Chea Vichea and its alleged cover up by government personnel and other important human rights cases.

To promote the creation of a Cambodian monitoring commission, foreign donors and United Nations bodies should coordinate their efforts and establish their own monitoring mechanism, Human Rights Watch said. Disbursement of donor funding and pledges to the government should be based on the findings and recommendations of the Cambodian commission.

Several of Cambodia’s donors are parties to the 1991 Paris Peace Agreements, which obligate them to work to promote human rights in Cambodia, Human Rights Watch said. The agreement’s signatories include the United States, Canada, China, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and the United Kingdom.

“International pressure needs to be brought on Cambodia to reform,” Adams said. “Parties to the 1991 Paris Accords should not abdicate their commitment to take active and concrete action to address Cambodia’s dire human rights situation.”

No comments: