Cambodia: free land activist and human rights defender Tep Vanny

by | Aug 15, 2017 | Advocacy

Tep Vanny, one of Cambodia’s most prominent land activists and human rights defenders, will have spent one year in prison on 15 August for defending her community and exercising her human rights.

The ICJ and other human rights organizations condemn her arbitrary imprisonment and call for her convictions to be overturned, for all ongoing politically motivated and unsubstantiated charges against her to be dropped, and for her immediate release from prison.

Tep Vanny has fought tirelessly to protect the rights of members of the Boeung Kak Lake community, following their forced eviction from their homes in Phnom Penh.

More recently, she played a leading role in the so-called ‘Black Monday” campaign, challenging the arbitrary pre-trial detention of five human rights defenders, Lim Mony, Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan, Nay Vanda, and Ny Chakrya (the “Freethe5KH” detainees).

On 22 August 2016, following her arrest at a protest calling for the release of the five, she was convicted of ‘insulting of a public official’, and sentenced to six days in prison.

However, instead of releasing her based on time served, the authorities reactivated dormant charges dating back to a 2013 protest and kept her in detention.

“It is clear that the authorities are using the courts to lock me up, silence my freedom of expression and break my spirit,” said Tep Vanny. “They want to stop me from advocating and seeking a solution for the remaining people from Boeung Kak Lake as well as other campaigns to demand justice in our society.”

On 19 September 2016, Tep Vanny was sentenced, along with three other Boeung Kak Lake community activists, to six months imprisonment for “insulting and obstructing public officials” in a reactivated case related to a 2011 peaceful protest calling for a resolution to the Boeung Kak Lake land dispute, despite the absence of credible inculpatory evidence.

This conviction has since been upheld by the Court of Appeal on 27 February 2017.

On 23 February 2017, following proceedings which fell short of fair trial standards, Tep Vanny was convicted of “intentional violence with aggravating circumstances”, sentenced to a further 30 months in prison and fined more than 14 million riel (about US $3,500 – or twice the annual minimum wage in Cambodia) for having peacefully participated in protests calling for the release of her fellow activist Yorm Bopha, back in 2013.

While the #FreeThe5KH human rights defenders were released on bail on 29 June 2017, after having spent 427 days in arbitrary detention, Tep Vanny remains in prison.

She is currently on trial in a third reactivated case, facing charges of “public insult” and “death threats” brought by another member of the Boeung Kak Lake community, despite the complaint having been dropped by the community member.

On 8 August 2017, the Court of Appeal upheld her February 2017 conviction.

Cambodia-Joint Statement Tep Vanny-Advocacy-2017-ENG (full statement in English, PDF)

Cambodia-Joint Statement Tep Vanny-Advocacy-2017-KHM (full statement in Khmer, PDF)

Cambodia-Infographic TV Case Overview-Advocacy-2017-KHM (Infographic in Khmer, PDF)

 

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