Cambodia: Treatment of Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) members by government authorities, including Suong Sophorn (June 2010-December 2011) [KHM104285.E]

Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa

1. SRP Leaders

According to the Political Handbook of the World, the two leaders of the SRP in 2010 and 2011 were Sam Rainsy and Mu Sochua (PHW 2011; ibid. 2012). Various sources note that Sam Rainsy is in self-imposed exile in France (LICADHO 1 Oct.2010; RFA 18 Oct.2012; PHW 2012). The US Department of State's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011 indicates that he has been living in exile since before 2009 (US 24 May 2012, 15). Sources indicate that Mu Sochua is an SRP parliamentarian (SRP 12 Sept. 2011; RFA 27 Jan.2010; Phnom Penh Post 23 Sept. 2011). Suong Sophorn is described as the SRP Youth Movement leader (SRP 12 Sept. 2011; Phnom Penh Post 20 Dec. 2012).

2. Treatment of SRP Members by Government Authorities
2.1 2010

Sources note that Sam Rainsy was stripped of parliamentary immunity in 2009 (US 24 May 2012, 15; PHW2012). Other sources indicate that Sam Rainsy faces prison if he returns to Cambodia (Human Rights Watch 24 Sept. 2010; RFA 18 Oct.2012).

Sources report that, in September 2010, Sam Rainsy was tried in absentia and sentenced to 10 years in prison (LICADHO 1 Oct.2010; Human Rights Watch 24 Sept. 2010). The charges were related to the publication of an alleged false map of the Cambodian border with Viet Nam (RFA 3 Oct.2012; LICADHO 1 Oct.2010). According to a report by the UN Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia, the government accused Sam Rainsy of falsifying the map "to show that Viet Nam had encroached on the territory of Cambodia" (2 Aug. 2011, para.23). Human Rights Watch also reports that Sam Rainsy was sentenced on "charges of spreading disinformation and falsifying maps" (24 Sept. 2010). According to Radio Free Asia (RFA), the sentence was later reduced to seven years (3 Oct.2012). The Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defence of Human Rights (LICADHO), a human rights organization established in 1992 that promotes political, economic, civil and social rights in Cambodia (LICADHO n.d.), reported that Sam Rainsy was also ordered to pay US$1,250 in fines to the court and US$15,000 to the government for compensation (ibid. 1 Oct.2010). Various sources alleged that the charges were "politically motivated" (UN 2 Aug. 2011, para.23; Human Rights Watch Jan.2012; Phnom Penh Post 7 Nov.2012).

2.2 2011

Country Reports 2011 states that, on 25 April 2011, Sam Rainsy was sentenced in absentia by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to two years in prison for defamation of the foreign minister (US 24 May 2012, 12). Similarly, RFA reports that Sam Rainsy was given a two-year jail term for accusing the foreign minister of having been a member of the Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s (RFA 3 Oct.2012).

Country Reports 2011 states that, on 2 June 2011,

the Supreme Court upheld the defamation verdicts of the trial and appeals courts against opposition parliamentarian Mu Sochua for comments she made in a press conference that allegedly defamed the prime minister. The court ordered Mu to pay a fine of eight million riels ($1,950) plus compensation to the prime minister of 8.5 million riels ($2,070). Mu refused to pay. On July 15, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court asked the National Assembly to dock Mu’s salary as a lawmaker to cover the compensation owed to the prime minister; the National Assembly approved the request on July 29 and began deducting four million riels ($975) per month from Mu’s salary. Mu sought restoration of her immunity, but no action was taken to restore it. (US 24 May 2012, 12)

The Phnom Penh Post, a Phnom Penh-based English-language newspaper, reports that Mu Sochua's parliamentary immunity, which was stripped in 2009, was restored in September 2012 (27 Sept. 2012). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

According to the SRP website, in September 2011, Phnom Penh city officials prevented youth and SRP parliamentarian Mu Sochua from distributing door-to-door voter registration information (SRP 12 Sept. 2011). Mu Sochua and the youth were accused of "unlawful activities" and disturbing the peace and security in the community (ibid.). Corroborating information on the incident could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

2.3 Treatment of Suong Sophorn by Government Authorities

Sources indicate that, between 2010 and 2011, Suong Sophorn participated in peaceful protests against the forced eviction of residents of Boeung Kak Lake community, in Phnom Penh (LICADHO 28 Oct.2010; AI 8 Mar.2011; AI 19 Sept. 2011). The LICADHO specifies that people were protesting against the grabbing of the land by a company owned by a ruling party senator (28 Oct.2010).

At an October 2010 peaceful demonstration against the land grabbing, one that took place during a visit of the UN Secretary-General in Cambodia, Suong Sophorn was arrested and "viciously beaten" by police officers, resulting in "severe wound" to the head (LICADHO 28 Oct.2010). The LICADHO indicates that the police "dragged [Suong Sophorn] away as he fell unconscious and was further beaten by officers" (ibid.). Amnesty International (AI) also reports that Suong Sophorn was "beaten unconscious" and adds that following the incident, he was detained by the police until the end of the Secretary-General's visit (AI 8 Mar.2011). According to AI, intimidation and threats were used against residents to force them to accept "inadequate" compensation and the security forces used "unnecessary force against peaceful gatherings of protesters" (ibid.).

AI reports another incident in September 2011, during which Suong Sophorn was "severely beaten" by the police, while protesting the "forced" eviction of eight families from the Boeung Kak Lake area (AI 2012). LICADHO similarly reports that Suong Sophorn "was savagely assaulted by a mob of intervention police officers who left him for dead after kicking and beating him with bricks and batons" (17 Sept. 2011). An AI report, dated 19 September 2011, also indicates that Suong Sophorn was surrounded and beaten by the police when he began peacefully encouraging residents to join hands to prevent the destruction of houses. AI further states that, after the beating, Suong Sophorn was "left lying unconscious and bleeding" (AI 19 Sept. 2011). According to the report, he suffered "serious" head injuries and a broken finger (ibid.). The Phnom Penh Post reports that Suong Sophorn filed a complaint at Phnom Penh Municipal Court on 22 September 2011 (23 Sept. 2011). Further information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References

Amnesty International (AI). 2012. "Cambodia." Amnesty International Report 2012: The State of the World's Human Rights. <http://www.amnesty.org/en/ region/cambodia/report-2012> [Accessed 22 Jan.2013]

_____. 19 September 2011. "Cambodian Land Activist Beaten by Police." <http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/ASA23/008/2011/en/c88259bd-dd2b-4e04-9707-0c9eecab65a1/asa230082011en.pdf> [Accessed 22 Jan.2013]

_____. 8 March 2011. "Families Risk Forcible Eviction in Phnom Penh." <http://www.amnesty.org/pt-br/library/asset/ASA23/001/2011/en/ab424343-f615-44d6-a94f-233bc5a6599d/asa230012011en.pdf> [Accessed 22 Jan.2013]

Human Rights Watch. January 2012. "Cambodia." World Report 2012: Events of 2011. <http://www.hrw.org/world-report-2012/world-report-2012-cambodia> [Accessed 23 Jan.2013]

_____. 24 September 2010. "Cambodia: Rainsy Sentence Shatters Pretense of Democracy." <http://www.hrw.org/news/2010/09/24/cambodia-rainsy-sentence-shatters-pretense-democracy> [Accessed 23 Jan.2013]

LICADHO, Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights. 17 September 2011. "Video: Boeung Kak Lake Activist Savagely Beaten by Mob of Police Officers During Forced Eviction." <http://www.licadho-cambodia.org/video.php?perm=25> [Accessed 23 Jan.2013]

_____. 28 October 2010. "Violent Crackdown of Peaceful Protesters During the Visit of UN Secretary-General." <http://www.licadho-cambodia.org/pressrelease.php?perm=229> [Accessed 23 Jan.2013]

_____. 1 October 2010. "Cambodia Monthly News Summary - September 2010." <http://www.licadho-cambodia.org/articles/20101001/126/index.html> [Accessed 23 Jan.2013]

_____. N.d. "About Us." <http://www.licadho-cambodia.org/aboutus.php> [Accessed 23 Jan.2013]

Phnom Penh Post. 20 December 2012. Buth Reaksmey Kongkea. "Court Tosses Suit Targeting Premier." (Factiva)

_____. 7 November 2012. May Titthara. "Rainsy's Removal From Rolls Right Move: NEC." (Factiva)

_____. 27 September 2012. Abby Seiff. "Mu Sochua Regains Her Immunity." (Factiva)

_____. 23 September 2011. Mom Kunthear and Bridget di Certo. "Attempted Murder Complaint." (Factiva)

Political Handbook of the World 2012(PHW). 2012. "Cambodia." Edited by Tom Lansford. Washington, DC: CQ Press. <http://library.cqpress.com/phw/document.php?id=phw2012_Cambodia> [Accessed 23 Jan.2013]

_____. 2011. "Cambodia." Edited by Thomas C. Muller, William R. Overstreet, Judith F. Isacoff and Tom Lansford. Washington, DC: CQ Press.<http://library.cqpress.com/ phw/document.php?id=phw2011_Cambodia&type=toc&num=2> [Accessed 28 Jan.2013]

Radio Free Asia (RFA). 18 October 2012. "Sam Rainsy Seeks 'Intervention'." <http://www.rfa.org/english/news/cambodia/intervention-10182012171013.html> [Accessed 21 Jan.2013]

_____. 3 October 2012. "Sam Rainsy Quits Party." <http://www.rfa.org/english/news/ cambodia/quit-10032012181510.html> [Accessed 25 Jan.2013]

_____. 27 January 2010. "Sam Rainsy Jailed 'in Absentia'." <http://www.rfa.org/english/news/cambodia/jail-01272010135706.html?searchterm=sophorn> [Accessed 25 Jan.2013]

Sam Rainsy Party (SRP). 12 September 2011. "Youth Denied Their Constitutional Rights in Phnom Penh." <http://www.samrainsyparty.org/en/2011/09/13/english-youth-denied-their-constitutional-rights-in-phnom-penh> [Accessed 23 Jan.2013]

United Nations (UN). 2 August 2011. Human Rights Council. Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Cambodia: Surya P. Subedi. (A/HRC/18/46) <http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/18session/A-HRC-18-46_en.pdf> [Accessed 23 Jan.2013]

United States (US). 24 May 2012. Department of State. "Cambodia." Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011. <http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/ hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm?dynamic_load_id=186266> [Accessed 22 Jan.2013]

Additional Sources Consulted

Internet sites, including:Asian Human Rights Commission; BBC; Cambodia – General Commissariat of National Police, Ministry of Interior; The Cambodia Herald; Cambodia Mirror; ecoi.net; EUR-Lex; Europa World; Freedom House; International Federation for Human Rights; Interpol; Kyodo News; Light of Justice; Minority Rights Group International; Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders; Open Development Cambodia; Pact Cambodia; Transparency International; Sam Rainsy Party in Australia and New Zealand; Sam Rainsy Youth Movement; Thai News; United Nations – Integrated Regional Information Networks, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Refworld, UN Development Programme; United States – Central Intelligence Agency; Voice of America Khmer; Voice of Democracy; Women's Media Center; World Movement for Democracy; World News; World Press.