Court Clears Licadho Head

Phnom Penh Municipal Court has dropped charges of illegal confinement against Naly Pilorge, di­rec­tor of the human rights group Licadho, officials said Tuesday.

Authorities filed the charges against the human rights activist in October, accusing her of confi­ning a 7-year-old girl against the will of her adoptive parents. The girl has been in Licadho’s custody since Feb 15, 2001.

Officials dropped the charges one year after Licadho won cus­tody because Naly Pilorge had the girl’s best interests in mind, Pro­se­cutor Chin Chiva said Tuesday.

“After thorough investigation she was found to have good intentions of saving the girl from being abused,” the prosecutor said.

Naly Pilorge said she was “pleased” with the decision and added that, “the court had no legal basis for their accusations.”

Police removed the girl from her home in Tuol Kok district in February of 2001 after receiving a reports she was being abused by her adoptive mother.

The following day, the child was hospitalized and treated for in­jur­ies, including a head wound and numerous whip marks, accor­ding to a medical certificate from the Phnom Penh Municipal Hospital.

In April, courts granted Licadho tem­­­porary custody of the girl. After the court reached its de­ci­sion, the Ministry of Social Af­fairs acknowledged Licadho’s custody.

Prior to the court’s decision, though, Licadho refused repeated requests by the adoptive parents to see the girl.

At the time, Licadho officials said the girl had begged not to meet them. The adoptive parents then pursued the illegal confinement charges.

Khiev Sepphan, lawyer for the adoptive parents, condemned the decision to drop the charges.

“It is not fair at all that the char­ges were dropped and I will write complaints to the appeals court and to the supreme court over this case,” he said.

The girl’s adoptive mother has since been convicted of abuse.

Licadho is to facilitate a meeting  between the girl, her biological father and her caretaker to decide where the child will be raised, Naly Pilorge said.


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