Cambodia: CCHR and OMCT welcome Yorm Bopha's release after 444 days in prison
CCHR and OMCT welcome today’s Supreme Court decision to temporarily
release Yorm Bopha and call on the Court of Appeal to promptly hear her case
and clear her name
22 November 2013 - The Cambodian
Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and the World
Organization Against Torture (OMCT) welcome the decision of the Supreme
Court, handed down earlier today, to temporarily release land rights activist
Yorm Bopha pending the re-hearing of her case by the Court of Appeal.
Yorm Bopha was convicted on 27
December 2012 and sentenced to three years in prison on charges of “intentional violence
with aggravating circumstances” under Article 218 of the Cambodian Criminal Code after she allegedly
ordered an attack on two motorbike taxi drivers who she did not even know. In
June 2013, the Court of Appeal ruled that Yorm Bopha was not a direct
perpetrator of the assault but the instigator behind it, and reduced her
sentence to two years.
Today’s hearing at the Supreme
Court saw Yorm Bopha’s defense lawyers pick to pieces any apparent evidence
used to convict Yorm Bopha, demonstrating quite clearly that the charges
against the land rights activist are bogus. CCHR and OMCT have consistently
criticized the conviction of Yorm Bopha and in June 2013 CCHR released a
detailed legal analysis of her charging and sentencing
at the Phnom Penh Court of First Instance. The lack of legal basis for Yorm
Bopha’s conviction has lead to the widespread belief that the case against her
was fabricated in order to silence the activist, who has played a prominent
role in her community’s struggle against land grabbing and forced evictions in
the Boeng Kak area of Phnom Penh.
Yorm Bopha has already spent 444 days in prison for a
crime that she did not commit. The Court of Appeal must act independently to
immediately review the case, schedule a new hearing for Yorm Bopha and finally
secure her freedom.
to CCHR President Ou Virak: “It has been clear from the very beginning of
this case that Yorm Bopha has been targeted for her activism in the context of
the Boeng Kak community’s struggle for their rights. While today’s decision to
temporarily release Bopha from jail is a welcome step, we must urge the Appeal
Court to act quickly and to put an end to the suffering of Bopha and her family
once and for all.”
relieved about Yorm Bopha’s conditional release after more than a year of
detention that we believe was arbitrary. We urge the Court of appeal to
schedule a new hearing quickly and to release her unconditionally” added OMCT
Secretary General Gerald Staberock.
For more information, please contact Ou Virak via
telephone at +855 (0) 1240 4051 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, CCHR Consultant Orla Kelly via telephone at +855 (0)
6772 7025 or e-mail at email@example.com or OMCT Human Rights Adviser Seynabou Benga
via telephone at + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.