Urgent letter to the kind attention of His Majesty the King and His Excellency the Prime Minister of Cambodia

Bruxelles, February 2, 2006

To the kind and urgent attention of:
His Majesty, the King of Cambodia, Norodom Sihamoni
His Excellency, the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Hun Sen

Bruxelles, February 2, 2006,

His Majesty, Excellency,

Today, we write you as members of several National Parliaments, the European Parliament and of the Transnational Radical Party, in a moment in which the democratic institutions of the Kingdom of Cambodia risk to lose their ability to protect the fundamental freedoms and rights of Cambodians.

Over the last few months, we have followed with attention and trepidation the judicial initiatives that have led to the arrests of numerous representatives of civil society organizations and of the Sam Rainsy Party. The legitimacy of these trials, mostly triggered by defamation lawsuits lodged by members of the Government and the Parliamentary majority following statements of political criticism, has been questioned by many Cambodian and international NGOs, and by the international institutions that monitor the rule of law in Cambodia, including the United Nations.

Today we call on you, to underline in particular the gravity of the situation of the Sam Rainsy MP Cheam Channy, who has been accused by the Cambodian authorities of planning a violent riot and which last August 9, led to his conviction to seven years in jail. Hon. Cheam Channy was stripped of his Parliamentary immunity and put on trial before a military court, considered by many international observers not sufficiently independent from the executive, which did not guarantee the right to a fair trial.

To support this opinions, we can quote also the UN Working Group on Arbitray Detentions (WGAD), which, on the trial of Cheam Channy, according to a report published by the International Federation on Human Rights, stated that " the Cambodian Military Court had no jurisdiction over Cheam Channy, a civilian and Member of Parliament for Kampong Cham province." Furthermore, the WGAD stressed that " No evidence of the possession of arms or the plotting of any violent act was presented, and the trial judge refused to permit defense witnesses to testify or to allow the defense to cross-examine prosecution witnesses."

Finally, the WGAD found that Cambodia was in breach of its obligations under international human rights law, declaring, "the deprivation of liberty of Mr. Cheam Channy is arbitrary being in contravention with Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights" (to which Cambodia is a state party).

Majesty, Excellency,

Pursuant to article 27 of the Cambodian Constitution " The King shall have the right to grant partial or complete amnesty." The power to grant amnesty is one of the powers of the King and should be exercised when he deems necessary to correct or remedy decisions of the judiciary, which do not respond to the sense of justice that they are supposed to represent. The case of Cheam Channy, in our opinion, needs the intervention of the highest Cambodian authority to restore justice to heal a deep wound inflicted to the Country.

For these reasons we call on the King and the Prime Minister of Cambodia to make sure that amnesty would be granted as soon as possible to our colleague Cheam Channy.

With our best wishes,

Emma Bonino, Member of the European Parliament, ALDE Group, Italy
Marco Pannella, Member of the European Parliament, ALDE Group, Italy
Giorgio Bogi, Member of Parliament, Democrats of the Left, Italy
Bajram Rexhepi, Former Prime Minister, Democratic Party of Kosovo, Kosovo
Naim Jerliu, Chairman of the Democratic Movement of Kosovo, Kosovo
Gjylnaze Syla, Member of Parliament, Alliance for Future of Kosovo, Kosovo
Zlatko Kramaric, Liberal party, Croatia