Supreme Court verdict against Tep Vanny and other activists exposes Cambodia’s courts of injustice
Responding to the Cambodian Supreme Court’s decision which upheld the guilty verdict against Tep Vanny and fellow activists Bo Chhorvy and Kong Chantha, on charges relating to a peaceful protest they attended in 2011, James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Director of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said:
“By upholding these unfounded convictions that stem from dormant charges, Cambodia’s Supreme Court has exposed, once again, the country’s compromised criminal injustice system.
“Tep Vanny, Bo Chhorvy and Kong Chantha have been found guilty by a judiciary that’s clearly in thrall to the Cambodian government’s repressive policies. These are nothing but politically motivated charges aimed at silencing voices who have dared to speak out.
“All these women did was exercise their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression. We urge both the prosecutor to refrain from enforcing the prison sentence and call on the Cambodian authorities to ensure Tep Vanny’s immediate and unconditional release from prison where she is serving an unrelated politically motivated prison sentence.”
Today, the Supreme Court upheld the verdict, however, without an accompanying enforcement order of the six-month prison sentence, leaving enforcement at the discretion of Phnom Penh’s municipal prosecutor.
Tep Vanny, Kong Chantha and Bo Chhorvy were arrested in 2011 for participating in a land protest outside the Phnom Penh Municipality. The case had laid dormant since 2012. On 19 September 2017, all three women HRDs were convicted of “obstruction of a public official with aggravating circumstances” and “insult”, under Articles 502 and 504 of the Cambodian Criminal Code, and sentenced to six-month’s imprisonment. On 23 February 2017, the Court of Appeal had upheld their conviction. During a preliminary hearing by the Supreme Court on 24 November 2017, neither the plaintiffs nor their lawyers or witnesses were present in the courtroom, denying the appellants’ their rights to cross-examination.
Tep Vanny is currently serving also a prison sentence of thirty months in relation to another conviction, stemming from charges that arose out of her participation in a peaceful protest in 2013. She is currently detained at Correctional Centre 2 (CC2) in Phnom Penh.