Briefs: Prison Access to NagaWorld Unionists Denied, Lor Peang Activists Bailed

3 min read
An undated photograph of LRSU president Chhim Sithar circulating on social media this week.

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court rejected a human rights group’s request to visit jailed NagaWorld unionists, saying the case was still under investigation.

In a letter dated February 1 responding to a request from Cambodian Center for Human Rights representative Chor Chan Thida, investigation judge Im Vannak said he could not allow the requested monthly visits to see eight jailed unionists Chhim Sithar, Ry Sovanndy, Sun Srey Pech, Hay Sopheap, Khlaing Soben, Touch Serei Meas, Chhim Sokhorn and Sok Narith.

“The investigating judges are continuing to investigate some more individuals whom the judges will have to call up for questioning. So the judges will not allow the request,” the letter said.

CCHR executive director Chak Sopheap said the group was worried about the conditions in prison. She said there should be no restrictions for suspects who had not yet faced trial, adding that the unionists should never have been arrested.

“I think it is regrettable because every person who has not received a final sentence from the court should be treated as innocent,” Sopheap said.

The LRSU casino workers’ union has been on strike since December 18, with near-daily protests in central Phnom Penh in response to mass layoffs that they argue targeted union leaders and members.

Reporting by Khut Sokun

Lor Peang Activist Sent to Pretrial Detention, Two Released on Bail

The Kampong Chhnang Provincial Court released land activist Oum Sophy and her husband Snguon Nheun on bail on charges of being accomplices to intentional damage, but sent another activist to pretrial detention, their lawyer said.

Sophy, Nheun and the third activist, Tuon Seng, are members of the Lor Peang community, which has been in a long-standing dispute with KDC International, a company owned by Energy Minister Suy Sem’s wife Chea Kheng.

The latest arrests were between Seng and another party, and had nothing to do with Sophy, Nheun or KDC, argued defense lawyer Choung Chou Ngy.

Sophy and Nheun had been detained for three nights before being placed under indefinite court supervision for being an accomplice to intentional damage, Chou Ngy said.

“This is an irregularity by the law enforcement officials who did this,” he said. “They arrested people abusively and took no responsibility.”

Nheun said police had threatened him and wife after their arrest. They had only been filming a dispute between villagers, he said.

Reporting by Khut Sokun

Cambodia U-Turns on Myanmar: Media Reports

After controversially hosting the Myanmar junta’s foreign affairs minister in December, Cambodia is not inviting the minister back for an Asean retreat due to lack of “consensus,” media outlets reported.

Prime Minister Hun Sen had also visited Myanmar last month, leading to a flurry of calls with other Asean leaders. They expressed concern about Hun Sen’s attempt to broker a deal in the conflict-stricken state.

Following Myanmar’s coup a year ago, Asean had agreed on a five-point consensus for Myanmar to work toward peace. Some saw Hun Sen’s actions as breaking the consensus.

Cambodian Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson Chum Sounry told Voice of America this week that Myanmar Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin would not be part of the Asean retreat scheduled to take place in Phnom Penh on February 16-17.

“Since there is little progress in the implementation of the 5-Point Consensus, ASEAN member states find it hard to reach a consensus to invite Myanmar SAC’s foreign minister to participate in the Retreat,” Sounry said, referring to Myanmar’s State Administration Council. “Thus, we have asked Myanmar to send a non-political representative instead.”

Compiled by Michael Dickison

VOD. No part of this article may be reproduced in print, electronically, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without written permission. VOD is not responsible for any infringement in all forms. The perpetrator may be subject to legal action under Cambodian laws and related laws.