Annual Report 2013
The state of the world's human rights

25 September 2013

Cambodia: Key step for justice with acquittal of men scapegoated in trade unionist’s murder

Cambodia: Key step for justice with acquittal of men scapegoated in trade unionist’s murder
Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun had been wrongly convicted, in 2005, for the murder of a trade union leader in Cambodia.

Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun had been wrongly convicted, in 2005, for the murder of a trade union leader in Cambodia.

© Heng Sinith


Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun were nothing but scapegoats, framed by the Cambodian authorities over the killing of trade union leader Chea Vichea. The question that remains now is: when will his real killers be brought to justice?.”
Source: 
Isabelle Arradon, Asia-Pacific Deputy Director at Amnesty International.

The acquittal and imminent release of two men wrongly convicted for the killing of a trade union leader is a major step towards justice in Cambodia, Amnesty International said.

Following a grossly unfair trial, Born Samnang, 32, and Sok Sam Oeun, 45, were sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2005 after being convicted of the murder of trade union leader Chea Vichea the year before. They are due to be released on 26 September after a Supreme Court decision to acquit them of the charges.

“Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun were nothing but scapegoats, framed by the Cambodian authorities over the killing of trade union leader Chea Vichea. The question that remains now is: when will his real killers be brought to justice?” said Isabelle Arradon, Asia-Pacific Deputy Director at Amnesty International.

The Supreme Court judge who issued the decision to release the men said there was a lack of clear evidence against them, that the accused had credible alibis for when the crime was committed and that one of them had allegedly been coerced by police into confessing to the crime, among other reasons.

Chea Vichea, a leading advocate for workers’ rights in Cambodia, was shot dead at a newspaper stand in Phnom Penh, following a series of death threats against him.

Born Samnang said that police beat and coerced him into making a confession which formed the principal evidence on which the pair were then convicted.

Police officers later also threatened and detained those providing alibis for the two suspects, and intimidated other witnesses.

“It is now time to re-focus the investigation into the killing of Chea Vichea. It is shocking that an influential human rights defender can be killed with impunity,” said Isabelle Arradon.

The Supreme Court also decided not to grant compensation to the two men.

“We urge the Cambodian authorities to ensure that these two men can effectively access their right to remedy in accordance with international law. They are both entitled to reparations for what they have suffered for so many years,” said Isabelle Arradon.

Cambodia is legally obliged, under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which it is a state party, to ensure that anyone whose rights or freedoms under the Covenant are violated have an effective remedy.

Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun were the victims of an unfair trial and were arbitrarily deprived of their liberty, in clear violation of the ICCPR.

Country

Cambodia 

Region

Asia And The Pacific 

Issue

Trials And Legal Systems 

@amnestyonline on twitter

News

21 August 2014

Children accused of being members of armed groups in the conflict in Mali are languishing in adult jails while human rights abuses continue.

Read more »
15 August 2014

The number of killings perpetrated by the police is on the rise again in the Dominican Republic whilst legislation intended to fix the problem stalls and stagnates in Congress... Read more »

29 August 2014

The execution of two men in Japan on Friday flies in the face of growing calls in the country to halt the use of capital punishment, said Amnesty International.

Read more »
29 August 2014

Russia’s official branding of a civil society organization as a “foreign agent”, an expression akin to “spying”, for speaking out on Ukraine is a sign of the country’s... Read more »

29 August 2014

Peaceful activist Mohamed Bachir Arab has been held in secret since he was arrested by the Syrian intelligence forces on 2 November 2011. He is one of Syria's many "disappeared... Read more »