The Adhoc 5 have been collectively selected as a finalist for the Martin Ennals Award, an annual prize for human rights activists also known as the Nobel Prize for human rights. The award is given to human rights defenders who have “shown deep commitment and face great personal risk,” according to the award’s website.
Michael Khambatta, director of the Martin Ennals Foundation, said yesterday that the Adhoc group’s human rights work was “widely respected in Cambodia and internationally.”
“By detaining them in this fashion they not only affect their work but threaten the work of all human rights defenders in Cambodia,” he said in an email. Mr. Khambatta said the announcement shines a spotlight on the finalists.
“We believe this kind of international pressure will ensure that the Cambodian government’s actions are widely publicized and that they know that such actions will have an impact on their international reputation,” he said. “We hope this will encourage them to release them.”
But government spokesman Phay Siphan yesterday said the award’s publicity would be futile.
“The award will mean nothing to the Cambodian court,” he said. “I can’t really take it into consideration. For the court, I have the respect,” he added.
The winner will be selected from a shortlist of three by 10 of the world’s leading human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, and announced in Geneva in October.
The 2012 laureate was Cambodian monk Luon Sovath, recognized for his land rights activism.