Cambodia: KUCH Veng, human rights defender | Letter

PDF version with addresses, copy list | Letter of 23 May 2013  | Excerpt of 23 May 2013 letter in Khmer

H.E. Hun Sen, Prime Minister
H.E. Sok An, Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman, Council for Legal and Judicial Reform
H.E. Sar Kheng, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior
H.E. Ang Vong Vathna, Minister of Justice
H.E. Hor Nam Hong, Minister of Foreign Affairs

Your Excellencies:

Re: Mr. Kuch Veng, human rights defender

I am writing on behalf of Lawyers Rights Watch Canada (LRWC), a committee of Canadian lawyers who promote human rights and the rule of law internationally. LRWC also provides support to lawyers and other human rights defenders in danger because of their advocacy.

We are following up on our letter of 23 May 2013 concerning Mr. Kuch Veng (attached in English and an excerpt in Khmer). On 19 May 2013, Mr Kuch Veng, a land rights activist, community forestry leader and member of the Community Peace Network, was arrested by four police officers at Kbal Trach commune, Krako district, Pursat village. At the time of the arrest, Mr. Kuch Veng was visiting villagers affected by the community’s land conflict with the Pheapimex Company Ltd, owned by Ms. Choeung Sopheap (also known as Yeay Phu), wife of Cambodia People’s Party Senator, Mr Lao Meng Khin. Police officers reportedly did not show an arrest warrant or state the reason for the arrest. Kuch Veng was later sent to the Pursat Provincial Court at 9:00 am on 20 May 2013. He has not been released. We understand that a trial was scheduled for 10 July 2013, but that this trial was postponed pending a decision from the investigating chamber of the court. We understand that a hearing is to be held 23 July 2013 at the Appeal Court in this matter.

We remind you that whether or not charges in relation to 2010 allegations against him are accepted by the court, Kuch Veng is entitled to the presumption of innocence and to release pending hearings or trial pursuant to the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Cambodia is a party. We refer you to the attached letter of 23 May 2013 for more detail about the applicable law in this case. 

LRWC requests all necessary steps be immediately taken to:

  • Immediately release Mr. Kuch Veng;
  • Withdraw the false allegations for which Kuch Veng is being investigated;
  • Ensure that all judges, prosecutors and other officials in this case are properly mandated and empowered to act independently and in accordance with law, including legal obligations to adhere to Cambodia’s Constitution and international obligations arising from or recognized by, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary.
  • Ensure that Kuch Veng is provided with proper and adequate medical attention;
  • Ensure the physical and psychological safety and wellbeing of Kuch Veng.

LRWC also requests that your government also ensure: 1) the safety of all human rights defenders advocating for community and individual rights to the occupation and use of lands and resources; 2) an immediate halt to all forms of intimidation and harassment of human rights defenders including land rights advocates, journalists and others calling for adherence to Cambodia’s international and domestic law obligations.

Yours sincerely,

Gail Davidson
Executive Director
Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada

Copied to:

H.M. Preah Bat Samdech Preah Boromneath Norodom Sihamoni
Office of the King
Royal Palace
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Fax: +855 23 426802

H.E. Om Yentieng
President, Cambodian Human Rights Committee
Office of the Prime Minister
Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia
Fax: +855 12 81 37 81 / +855 23 21 11 62 or +855 23 88 10 45 (c/o Council of Ministers)

Ambassador Mr. Sun Suon
Permanent Mission of Cambodia to the United Nations in Geneva
Chemin de Taverney 3
Case postale 213
1218 Grand-Saconnex, Switzerland
Fax: + 41 22 788 77 74.

Mr. Surya Prasad Subedi
Re: Judicial harassment & arbitrary arrest of human rights defender Mr. Kuch Veng page 3 of 4
UN Special Rapporteur for human rights in Cambodia
C/o Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights/Cambodia
N_ 10, Street 302, Sangkat Boeng Keng Kang I, Khan Chamcar Mon
P.O. Box 108
Phnom Penh, Cambodia,
Fax: (+855) 23 212 579, 213 587, Email:

Mrs. Margaret Sekaggya
Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders
C/o Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Palais Wilson United Nations Office at Geneva
CH 1211 Geneva 10 Switzerland
Fax: +41(0) 22.917.90.06, email:

Gabriela Carina Knaul de Albuquerque e Silva
Special Rapporteur of the Human Council on the independence of judges and lawyers
C/o Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations Office at Geneva
8-14 Avenue de la Paix
1211 Geneva 10 Switzerland
Fax: +41 22 917 9006; e-mail:

Mr. Maina Kiai
Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association
c/o Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Palais Wilson United Nations Office at Geneva
CH 1211 Geneva 10 Switzerland
Fax: +41(0) 22.917.90.06, email:

Mr. Frank La Rue
Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10 Switzerland
Fax: +41 22 917 9006, Email:

Mr. El Hadji Malick Sow
Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
c/o Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations Office at Geneva
8-14, avenue de la Paix
1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 9179006, e-mail:

Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
No. 10, Street 302, P.O. Box 108,
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Fax: (+855) 23 212 579; E-mail:

Mr. José Manuel Barroso, President
Ms. Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
Mr. Karel de Gucht, Commissioner for Trade
European Commission Berlaymont
Rue de la Loi/Wetstraat 200
1049 Bruxelles, Belgium
Fax: +32 (0)2 296 42 84 (BERL 3/350), +32 (0)2 295 01 43 (BERL 2/342)
Email:,,, Karel.DEGUCHT@

Ambassador Ron Hoffmann
Embassy of Canada
P.O. Box 2090
Bangkok 10501, Thailand
Fax: +66 (0) 2636-0566; email:,

Pheapimex Co. Ltd.
#17, Wat Langkar (St.55)
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Fax: (+855) 023 212 240; email: