Rights Monitor Questioned for Conducting ‘Unlawful’ Protest

A senior human rights monitor in Banteay Meanchey province was questioned on Wednesday by the provincial court over a street protest that took place on Monday, but his organization, Adhoc, is claiming that the court breached judicial procedure in getting him there.

According to Ny Chakrya, head of human rights and legal aid at Adhoc, police delivered a summons to the organization’s Banteay Meanchey office at around 10 a.m. on Wednesday ordering its provincial coordinator, Suom Chankea, to report for questioning at 11:30 a.m.

Mr. Chankea then had an assistant deliver a letter to the court asking for a delay, but police showed up at his office again at 2:30 p.m. ordering him to the court that afternoon, Mr. Chakrya said, adding that both warrants were signed by provincial prosecutor Phan Vanrath.

“We noticed that the issuance of the two warrants is procedurally wrong,” Mr. Chakrya said. “Firstly, the first warrant shall give five days after its issue for related persons to find a lawyer and prepare to give answers.”

“Secondly, we can’t find anything in the criminal code of procedure stating that the prosecutor can issue warrants ordering the related person to the courthouse,” he added.

Only the investigating judge has the right to issue a warrant, he said, “therefore, whatever the prosecutor has done is violating the criminal procedure.”

Mr. Vanrath could not be reached.

A copy of the warrant says that Mr. Chankea was wanted for questioning for “leading an unlawful demonstration and damaging public order,” relating to a protest in Poipet City on Monday, where about 40 people facing eviction marched through the city with an effigy of a government official. The protest was deemed illegal by local officials and one participant, Chheng Bunhak, was arrested.

Speaking by telephone after his date at the court, Mr. Chankea said the prosecutor questioned him over his role in the protest and relationship with Mr. Bunhak.

“I told the prosecutor I was just monitoring the protest and was not involved,” he said.

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