International Organization Condemns ‘Harassment’ of Rights Worker

The Geneva-based Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders has appealed to the public to urge Cambodian authorities to end their “judicial harassment” of prominent human rights advocate Ny Chakrya, who stands charged with public defamation and attempting to coerce court officials.

In May, Mr. Chakrya, the head of monitoring for rights group Adhoc, filed complaints against a judge and a prosecutor at the Siem Reap Provincial Court, accusing them of unlawfully jailing two farmers for protesting against an agribusiness firm.

Human rights advocate Ny Chakrya enters the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on July 13. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
Human rights advocate Ny Chakrya enters the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on July 13. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

The court officials responded by suing Mr. Chakrya, and on July 13, he was summoned by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court for questioning over subsequent accusations he made during two press conferences. He was charged hours later, but allowed to remain free.

In an “urgent appeal” to the public dated Monday, the Observatory wrote that it “has been informed by reliable sources about the continued judicial harassment” of Mr. Chakrya.

“The Observatory strongly condemns the ongoing judicial harassment against Mr. Ny Chakrya, which only aims at sanctioning his legitimate human rights activities, and calls upon the Cambodian authorities to put an immediate end to it,” it said.

The appeal also noted that the municipal court’s attempt to summon Mr. Chakyra again last week—by taking a summons to his house while he was not at home—had been done in breach of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

“[A] subpoena has to be delivered personally to the concerned person, who in turn either signs or fingerprints the document, in order to confirm its receipt. The fact that the subpoena was handed down to the wife of Mr. Ny Chakrya is therefore a blatant violation of the Criminal Procedure Code,” it said.

Contacted yesterday, Investigating Judge Veng Hourt reiterated that Mr. Chakrya should consider the summons served and said that if the rights advocate did not appear in court on October 21 as ordered, he could be escorted there by force.

“He will be taken [to the court], and if he cannot be taken, the other way is to have him arrested,” he said.

Mr. Chakrya said the court had made no further attempts to contact him or his lawyers since the attempt to summon him on Thursday, and that because the summons was not delivered to him, he would not heed it. He said his wife took a photo of the summons when it was delivered to his house on October 8, but that the officials had taken the document with them when they left.

“If the court changes the date and issues a new subpoena and follows the procedure, then I will go,” he said.

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