AI: Bopha and Sakmony are Prisoners of Conscience

Dec. 17, 2012

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL URGENT ACTION

WOMEN FACE JAIL FOR DEFENDING HOUSING RIGHTS

Two Cambodian women human rights defenders are to be tried on 26 December. They may be facing six months to five years in prison. Yorm Bopha and Tim Sakmony are housing rights activists from two areas in the capital, Phnom Penh. They are prisoners of conscience.

Yorm Bopha was arrested on 4 September 2012 and Tim Sakmony the next day, in two separate cases. They are detained in Prey Sar (CC2) prison in Phnom Penh. Their trials are scheduled for 2 pm on 26 December in different rooms of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

Yorm Bopha is charged with “intentional violence with aggravating circumstances” under Article 218 of Cambodia’s Penal Code. Her husband, Luos Sakhorn, was also arrested and charged, but was released on bail. No date has been set for his trial. They are accused of assaulting a person suspected of stealing car wing mirrors, around a month before their arrest, which they have denied.

Tim Sakmony, a 65-year-old grandmother, is charged with making a “false declaration” under Article 633 of the Penal Code. This stems from a request she made on behalf of her disabled son to Phanimex, the company redeveloping the Borei Keila area in Phnom Penh, for one of the apartments it had promised after the community was forcibly evicted in January 2012.

Both women have been prominent in protesting against the forced evictions of their communities. Yorm Bopha was outspoken during the detention of 13 other Boeung Kak Lake women activists who were sentenced for up to two-and-a-half years’ imprisonment in May 2012. Tim Sakmony is one of the representatives of 106 families now living in tents next to the demolished site of the Borei Keila community. The authorities appear to have leveled baseless charges against the two women because of their leading roles in peacefully advocating for the right to adequate housing for their communities.

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