Cambodia: five environmental defenders handed down jail termEvent
- Initial Date
- Jul 8, 2022
- Event Description
The Ratanakiri Provincial Court today convicted five forest activists, including long-time environmental defender Chhorn Phalla, for allegedly instigating damage to forestland to claim ownership of it on Phnom Art in Samot Kraom village, Seda commune, Lumphat district, Ratanakiri province.
Phalla was sentenced to six years in prison. Sithan Nhan, Kham Masok, Lat Branh and Tvae Hok, who are all Tampuon indigenous people, were sentenced to five years in prison. The charges relate to a meeting the five men attended in 2017 in an effort to protect their forests and land and raise awareness about illegal logging.
The five were convicted under Articles 56(4) and 62(1) of the Law on Natural Protected Areas and Article 28 of the Criminal Code. They were not initially charged as instigators, with the charge added as the judge read the verdict today. There was not sufficient evidence presented during the trial to support the charges.
Phalla has been imprisoned in Ratanakiri prison since his arrest in September 2021. He is currently serving a five-year prison sentence in a separate case, in which he was convicted last November without substantial evidence by the Ratanakiri Provincial Court of clearing forestland and enclosing it to claim ownership. The judge did not order the arrest of the other four today and each of the activists are permitted to appeal the verdict before the judgement is final.
Phalla has spent more than ten years defending forests and monitoring natural resource destruction in Ratanakiri.
- Impact of Event
- Gender of HRD
- (Arbitrary) Arrest and Detention
- Judicial Harassment
- Rights Concerned
- Freedom of assembly
- Freedom of expression
- Right to liberty and security
- Environmental rights defender
- Indigenous peoples' rights defender
- Monitoring Status
- Event Location
- Event Location
- Summary for Publications
On 8 July 2022, five environmental defenders, including prominent HRD Chhorn Phalla and 5 indigenous people, were sentenced to 5 to 6 years jail for allegedly inciting damage to forestland in relation to a meeting they attended in 2017 in an effort to protect forest from illegal logging by the Provincial Court of Ratanakiri, Cambodia.