Monthly Archives: January 2011

Institutions pass the buck on Sochua

WEDNESDAY, 26 JANUARY 2011 19:52 MEAS SOKCHEA PHNOM PENH POST

The National Assembly and the Ministry of Justice are passing the buck on the issue of who is responsible for restoring the parliamentary immunity of opposition lawmaker Mu Sochua, saying each institution is awaiting an authorisation letter from the other.

Earlier this month, the Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian called for her immunity to be restored, after the resolution of her high-profile legal spat with Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Cheam Yeap, chairman of the National Assembly’s Banking and Finance Committee, said today that the parliament cannot restore Mu Sochua’s immunity unless the Justice Ministry requests it first.

“The court requested firstly that [her immunity] be suspended, so when it happens the court must inform the parliament through the Justice Minister,” Cheam Yeap said.

But Minister of Justice Ang Vong Vathana said last week that in Mu Sochua’s case, the parliament has to send a letter to the Justice Ministry and that the ministry was still awaiting word.

“I am waiting for a letter from the parliament first,” Ang Vong Vathana told reporters following a legal arbitration workshop in Phnom Penh.

Mu Sochua’s legal battle with Hun Sen started in April 2009, when she filed a defamation suit against him in relation to comments he made during a speech in Kampot province, in which he allegedly made derogatory comments about her.

The premier countersued and the court ruled against her, ordering her to pay 16.5 million riels (US$4,084) in fines and compensation to Hun Sen.

Mu Sochua said today that she has refused to make a request to the courts for the restoration of her immunity, saying that if the court will not do it without prompting, they are clearly not impartial.

“My duty is not to ask for [immunity]. I do not need to ask, it is a duty of the law enforcer,” Mu Sochua said.

“Samdech Prime Minister has said that if you exit by any way, you must enter by the same way. Now will this be re-enforced or is it political discrimination?”

Sok Sam Oeun, executive director of the Cambodian Defenders Project, said the Ministry of Justice had to write to the National Assembly, since it made the initial request to remove Mu Sochua’s immunity.

“It is not necessary for the person concerned to ask,” he said today.

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In Remembrance of Chea Vichea

Cambodia- A Repressive One Party-State System of Intolerance

The blocking of any source of information by the government of Cambodia is a sign of intolerance. It is a sign of repression and a violation of human rights. Cambodia can not afford to move back to the years of darkness. Read the full Phnom Penh Post article below:

Blockage of Blog Denied.  Meas Sokchea and Summer Walker. 19/01/2011

The government has denied that it has ordered local internet service providers to block a domain hosting controversial antigovernment news blog KI-Media, amid reports customers of the Ezecom ISP were unable to access the site today.
A customer service representative for Ezecom, contacted by The Post today, confirmed that his manager told him to block access to the website, saying the government had informed them to shut it down.

Naly Pilorge, director of the rights group Licadho, said her staff could not access any sites on KI-Media’s blogspot.com domain through Ezecom as of this morning, and she had received similar complaints from about 15 others Ezecom customers as early as Tuesday.

She said a customer service representative had also informed her that an unidentified government ministry asked the firm to block the site on Tuesday, due the highly critical commentary posted on the website.

There have been no reports of other ISPs blocking the domain.

Ezecom CEO Paul Blanche-Horgan said he was unaware that any actions had been taken today to shut off access to the website, forwarding questions to the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications.

Government officials contacted today also denied any action to block KI-Media.

“The ministry of posts and telecommunications did not attempt to shut them [KI media] down,” Minister of Posts and Telecommunications So Khun told reporters today.

He said, however, that the government had to “make sure that what is on the website is true” and ensure it doesn’t post any lewd images.

When contacted today, Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said he did not know whether the government had ordered Ezecom to block the blogspot.com domain, but added that KI-Media deserved to be shut down.

“I don’t know, but it should be closed,” he said, due to its strong criticisms of the government.

Government spokesman and Information Minister Khieu Kanharith could not be reached for comment today.

Naly Pilorge from Licadho said that if the reports that the government had blocked the site were true, it would mark a significant narrowing of the space for public debate.

“This is a critical moment towards censorship and more repression,” she said.

“Free access to information is vital to any functioning democracy.”

KI-Media last made headlines in December, when Seng Kunnaka, a security guard employed by the United Nations World Food Programme, was charged with incitement and jailed for six months after he showed colleagues an article printed from the website.

Following Seng Kunnaka’s conviction, Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan told The Post that the article had referred to Prime Minister Hun Sen and Var Kimhong, the senior minister in charge of border affairs, as “traitors”. ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SAMOEURN SAMBATH

For everyone living outside of Cambodia: http://kimedia.blogspot.com/

Asia Pacific Rule of Law Conference

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010. APAC website.

Mu Sochua, a Cambodian Parliament member, will be a panelist at the Asia Pacific Rule of Law Conference. Sochua has been an outspoken advocate for a diverse array of human rights issues in Cambodia, including a campaign against sex trafficking, the prevention of domestic violence and the promotion of labor rights for women. For more information on Mu Sochua and other prominent speakers at the Asia Pacific Rule of Law Conference, please visit their speaker page.

Lawmaker Fights for Immunity

Phnom Penh Post. January 11, 2011. Meas Sokchea. Photo: Pha Lina

Outspoken opposition lawmaker Mu Sochua has demanded a swift restoration of her parliamentary immunity now that her long-running spat with Prime Minister Hun Sen has come to a close. 

Mu Sochua’s immunity was suspended in 2009 to allow her prosecution in a defamation case brought by Hun Sen. 

Speaking Tuesday, the Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian said she will hold a press conference later this week to demand that her immunity – a right under Cambodia’s Constitution – be restored. 

“My immunity was suspended in a hurry by the assembly, so it must be restored in a hurry,” she said.  “My fine was paid by deductions to my salary, so it is time to restore my immunity.”

Mu Sochua’ s highly-publicised legal battle with Hun Sen started in April 2009, when she filed a defamation suit against him in relation to comments he made during a speech in Kampot province, in which he allegedly made derogatory comments about a female parliamentarian from that province. 

The premier countersued and the court ruled against her, ordering her to pay 16.5 million riel (US$4,084) in fines and compensation to Hun Sen. 

Though Mu Sochua refused to pay – saying she was willing to go to jail if necessary – the court issued an order authorising the docking of her salary for four months. The entire 16.5 million riel was eventually paid off in November. 

Cheam Yeap, chairman of the National Assembly’s Banking and Finance Committee, said that parliament was willing to restore Mu Sochua’ s immunity, but that procedure required that a request come first from the courts. 

“The parliament is waiting for the court’s request. When the process ends, the court must inform the parliament to restore the immunity,” he said.

He indicated that as soon as the court makes a request to parliament, the assembly will convene to  restore Mu Sochua’s immunity, something which would be possible without holding a vote.

When contacted Tuesday, Chea Sok Heang, the judge in charge of the case, declined to comment in detail, saying only that the court had to wait for a request from Mu Sochua before taking further action.

California Rep Meets with SRP Lawmakers

Wednesday, January 05, 2011. Phnom Penh Post. Thomas Miller.

Laura Richardson, a United States Congresswoman representing California, met Foreign Minister Hor Namhong and other government officials during a visit to Cambodia last week, ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said yesterday.

She also met with opposition Sam Rainsy Party lawmakers Yim Sovann and Mu Sochua at the US Embassy, Yim Sovann said, where they briefed her on human rights and political challenges, including “threats and intimidation toward members of parliament.”

During the December 28 to January 1 trip, Richardson, whose US constituency includes thousands of Cambodian migrants, also toured the temples of Angkor and viewed US-funded temple preservation efforts, a US Embassy spokesman said.

People Have the Power