Target: Hun Sen, Prime Minster of Cambodia
Goal: Release 11 political prisoners convicted following an unfair trial.
Eleven members of the Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP), Cambodia’s opposition party, have been arrested in connection with a 2014 demonstration. Their trial was rushed and characterized by a lack of adherence to international fair trial standards, and no proof of the charges against them has been offered. Sign the petition and demand that the charges against the men be dropped and that they be released from prison.
Meach Sovannara, Oeur Narith, and Khin Chamroeun were convicted of “leading an ‘insurrectionary movement'” and sentenced to 20 years in prison, Amnesty International reports, while Sum Puthy, Tep Narin, Ouk Pich Samnang, Neang Sokhun, San Kimheng, Ke Khim, An Bak Tham, and San Seyhak were convicted of participating in the same and sentenced to seven years. The men were all involved in a demonstration organized by the CNRP that was broken up by the para-police.
Cambodia has a non-independent judicial system, which means that politically-motivated charges have a good chance of resulting in convictions. The trial of the eleven men was inexplicably fast-tracked by authorities, which resulted in a boycott by the defense lawyers. Only one defense lawyer was present for the trial, during which no evidence was presented to support the allegations against any of the men. The judges denied the defendants’ request for a postponement until their lawyers could be present and made abrupt calls for closing arguments. They deliberated for just 15 minutes before convicting the men.
The judicial system means nothing if it does not honor and uphold the rights of Cambodia’s citizens. Sign the petition and demand that the eleven convicted prisoners be released immediately given the lack of evidence and credible charges against them.
I am writing to encourage the immediate release of Meach Sovannara, Oeur Narith, Khin Chamroeun, Sum Puthy, Tep Narin, Ouk Pich Samnang, Neang Sokhun, San Kimheng, Ke Khim, An Bak Tham, and San Seyhak, members of the Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) who were convicted of either leading or participating in an “insurrectionary movement” following their involvement in a demonstration. Their trial did not adhere to international fair trial standards and no evidence has been presented to support the charges against them. I therefore demand that the charges against them be dropped and that they be released from prison immediately.
The men’s trial was fast-tracked, an unnecessary move that directly led to a number of fair trial issues. To begin with, only one defense lawyer was present during the trial, as the rest were boycotting the decision to speed up the judicial process. The men requested that the trial be postponed until their lawyers could be present, but judges denied the request. The trial did not include the presentation of any evidence against the accused, and judges deliberated for only 15 minutes before convicting the men under a law that Amnesty International describes as “over-broad and open to abuse.”
The judicial system exists to uphold the rights of Cambodia’s citizens, not to push through the political agendas of those in power. The eleven men convicted in this case have been wronged, and their rights have been violated by dubious arrests followed by an unfair trial. It is imperative that the charges against them be dropped and that they be released immediately.
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Photo credit: AlexVan