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Alert Detail
Outspoken Opposition Lawmaker Facing Charges of Defamation and Incitement
Date Issue 2012-02-17
Nature of violation Charges of defamation and incitement
Rights involved Freedom of Expression
Brief Description

It is reported today in The Phnom Penh Post that a criminal complaint has been filed against Mu Sochua, a member of the National Assembly for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party (”SRP”)  a month after 18 women and children escaped from detention at Prey Speu Social Affairs Center (“Mu Sochua sued over Prey Speu detainees’ ‘escape’”). The women and children were rounded up after protesting against their eviction in the Borei Keila area of Phnom Penh and were held in the center for a week without charge.  On 18 January 2012, Mu Sochua and her fellow SRP lawmaker Sovann Pisakha, visited the center to call for the release of the detainees. While Mu Sochua and Sovann Pisakha sought to negotiate the release of the detainees they are reported to have escaped over the wall of the center.

Uncertainty surrounds the nature of the complaint against Mu Sochua with Vann Nhann, the director of the facility and the complainant in the case, reportedly refusing to specify the grounds of his complaint. Mu Sochua has stated that she was informed of the complaint by acting chief prosecutor Sok Roeun. The Phnom Penh Post reports that the complaint is one of defamation and incitement.

Stripped of her parliamentary immunity in 2009 following a defamation conviction in case involving the Prime Minister, Mu Sochua would be denied any protection from prosecution deriving from her membership of the National Assembly. Quoted in The Phnom Penh Post, she has expressed her opinion that the complaint was filed following pressure on Vann Nhann from members of the government.

Under Article 495 of the Penal Code, Incitement to Commit Crimes is punishable by a period of imprisonment of between six months and two years and a fine of between $250 and $1,000 USD. While the custodial sentence for the crime of Defamation was removed in 2006, Defamation remains a criminal offence and is punishable, under Article 305 of the Penal Code, by a fine of between $25 and $2500 USD.




Contact
Suon Bunthoeun, Cambodian Center for Human Rights Human Rights Defenders Project Coordinator, Tel: 012 48 35 46, Email: bunthoeun@cchrcambodia.org
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