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#Freethe5KH Campaign Welcomes the Long-Overdue Release of the Five HRDs after 14 Months of Arbitrary Detention, and Calls for all Charges against Them to be Dropped

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Phnom Penh, 30 June 2017 – The Freethe5KH campaign welcomes the long-overdue release of human rights defenders Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan, Nay Vanda, Lim Mony and Ny Chakrya, after 427 days of arbitrary pre-trial detention, and urges the authorities to drop all charges against them.

We are delighted to see our colleagues and friends restored to liberty and reunited with their loved ones. For over a year they have endured separation from their families, woeful prison conditions, and repeated denial of bail, despite the failure of the authorities to adduce any credible evidence to justify their continued detention.

On 29 June 2017 the Investigating Judge in their case issued a Closing Order, indicting the five to appear before the trial court. The four staff of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC) face charges of bribing a witness, while Mr. Ny Chakrya, Deputy Secretary General of the National Election Committee and a former ADHOC staff member, is charged as an accomplice to the same offence. At the same time, the Investigating Judge decided to release the five from detention, imposing three bail conditions: the five must not change their place of residence without permission of the Court; they must not leave the country without permission of the Court; and they must respond to any further summons issued by the Court.

While we welcome the release of the five from prison as a positive step, they should never have been detained in the first place. The decision to impose pre-trial detention lacked any justifiable basis in Cambodian or international law; no credible evidence was presented to demonstrate that the exhaustive conditions in Article 205 of the Criminal Procedure Code were met; and these concerns could in any case have been addressed through the imposition of bail conditions.[1]

We call on the Cambodian authorities to drop the baseless charges against the five, as well as to overturn Mr. Ny Chakrya’s separate defamation and related convictions.[2] We will continue to call for the release of land activist and human rights defender Ms. Tep Vanny, who as of today has spent 319 days in prison following her arrest on 15 August 2017 while protesting for the five’s release.

[1] Joint Legal Analysis of the Pre-trial Detention of Mr. Ny Sokha, Mr. Yi Soksan, Mr. Nay Vanda, Ms. Lim Mony and Mr. Ny Chakrya (November 2016)

[2] Joint Statement: “CSOs condemn upholding of conviction of human rights defender Ny Chakrya” (14 December 2016)