Judge, Prosecutor Sue Human Rights Advocate for Defamation

Officials at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court and Justice Ministry on Thursday confirmed that a prosecutor and judge in Siem Reap are suing human rights advocate Ny Chakrya for defamation over a complaint he filed against them last month.

In May, Mr. Chakrya, the head of monitoring at rights group Adhoc, filed complaints with the Justice Ministry and Supreme Court against Siem Reap Provincial Court deputy prosecutor Sok Keobandith and investigating judge Ky Rithy over their handling of a land dispute. Mr. Chakrya accused the pair of failing to follow proper procedures in jailing two villagers for protesting against an agribusiness firm, Community Takhmao Development Agriculture & Industrial, which the villagers accuse of trying to illegally confiscate their farms.

On Thursday, a spokesman for the Justice Ministry, Chhin Malin, said the deputy prosecutor and investigating judge were suing the rights advocate for defamation because of his complaint against them.

“This is related to the judge and prosecutor filing a complaint against Adhoc,” he said. “It is a personal dispute, not between one institution and another institution.”

“The complaint seems to be defamation,” he said. “It is in the Phnom Penh court’s hands.”

Sieng Sok, a deputy prosecutor at the municipal court, confirmed that he questioned the lawyer representing the prosecutor and judge suing Mr. Chakrya, but declined to elaborate. “We are working on this case, so don’t ask,” he said.

Mr. Chakrya on Thursday said he had read local news reports about the lawsuit against him, but had yet to be formally informed. He declined to comment further.

As for Mr. Chakrya’s complaint against the prosecutor and judge, Mr. Malin said the Justice Ministry was reviewing the allegations to determine whether or not to launch a formal investigation.

“We are checking to see if the case complies with the law,” he said. “We need to check the facts and have launched a preliminary investigation to decide whether or not to work on the complaint.”

(Additional reporting by Zsombor Peter)

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