Cambodia: Quash convictions against environmental activists
Reacting to today’s verdict sentencing two environmental activists affiliated with the NGO Mother Nature to prison for one year plus fines, James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Southeast Asia and Pacific Director, said:
“This is a farcical sentence that must be overturned immediately. The two Mother Nature activists have done nothing but peacefully campaigned for the protection of Cambodia’s environment and should have never been charged in the first place. Instead of going after the messenger, the authorities should do more to curb the illegal trade in natural resources that Hun Vannak and Doem Kundy activists were trying to expose.
“Today’s ruling is yet more evidence of the politicised nature of Cambodia’s courts. Far from seeking justice and fairness, they too often act as an arm of the government to harass, intimidate and imprison human rights activists.
“The backslide on human rights in Cambodia over the past year has been alarming. Unless the world wakes up and acts to demand change, space for peaceful activism and expression will shrink further as the government tightens its grip ahead of elections due this July.”
Mother Nature activists Hun Vannak and Doem Kundy were arrested on 11 September 2017 after filming two large vessels off Cambodia’s coast they suspected of illegally carrying Cambodia’s valuable silica sand for export. On 26 January 2018, they were convicted of “incitement to commit a felony” and “violation of privacy (recording of a person’s image)” under Articles 495 and 302 of the Criminal Code, respectively, for allegedly filming on private property. They have been sentenced to one year in prison (seven months suspended) and a fine. With time already served both activists could be released in two weeks.