Joint Statement “Justice To Be Sought”

As civil society organizations working on women’s right and gender equality, we are deeply concerned by the irregular judicial process culminating in the sentencing of 13 female peaceful protestors from Boeung Kak of up to 2 and a half years imprisonment and the arrest of another man and woman from Boeung Kak for a pre-trial detention on the same day.

Following the arrest of these women on Tuesday 22 May 2012 at a protest over a land eviction, they were held without charge until being charged, tried and sentenced all in quick succession on Thursday 24 May 2012.

The procedures adopted in this case denied these women their right to a fair trial. Their legal representatives’ requests for a postponement were denied. Their requests to review evidence were denied. Their requests for an opportunity to bring witnesses were denied. It is further reported that observers, witnesses and media were not admitted to observe the trial.

The treatment of these women could be interpreted as a heavy-handed attempt to deter individuals from defending their land rights and, in particular, to deter women from exercising freedom of expression. The 13 are all women, whose rights Cambodia has guaranteed to uphold under national and international law, including The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

We call on the Royal Government of Cambodia to release the 15 protestors and human rights defenders immediately. The proper resolution of this dispute and the right to a fair trial are essential for Cambodia to uphold itself as a democratic country with proper rule of law and respect for human rights.