- For defenders
- How can I help?
Cambodia: Update- Court closes investigation into the killing of human rights defender and environmentalist Mr Chut Wutty
On 4 October 2012, the Koh Kong provincial court decided to dismiss the case investigating the death of Mr Chut Wutty, a high-profile human rights defender and environmentalist who was shot dead in his car on 26 April 2012.
Chut Wutty was the founder of the Natural Resource Protection Group, which protects environmental rights and monitors illegal logging activity for illicit trade in luxury timber.
The court based its decision on the fact that the military officer who was the alleged perpetrator of Chut Wutty's killing, Mr In Rattana, is dead; consequently, it argued there was no need to proceed with the investigation and decided to concentrate its efforts on the prosecution of Mr Ran Boroth who, immediately following the shooting of Chut Wutty, allegedly killed In Rattana. The court believes Ran Boroth to have shot In Rattana in an attempt to disarm him. To date, there has been no full and transparent investigation, including the questioning of witnesses, into the events surrounding the death of the human rights defender, and military officials and authorities have given a number of different versions of these events.
On 26 April 2012, Chut Wutty was accompanying two journalists from The Cambodia Daily when they were reportedly stopped and detained by military police and soldiers. They were investigating suspected illegal logging activity in the Koh Kong border area and the Central Cardamom Protected Forest Area, where the human rights defender had been taking photos. Around 12.30pm, the group was detained in the commune of Veal Bei, Mondul Sima district, and military police and soldiers reportedly confiscated Chut Wutty's camera. The official version of the events that followed is that Chut Wutty was then shot by In Rattana, a military officer working for a logging company, who was in turn killed by shots fired by Ran Boroth, a security guard, in an attempt to disarm him.
Chut Wutty was a very prominent critic of illegal timber trade in Cambodia. He had been threatened and intimidated by civil and military police in August and September 2011, and had already received death threats for his role in monitoring illegal logging in 2001. The Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) has called Chut Wutty “Cambodia's most effective and vocal critic” of illegal logging. The CCHR President has condemned the court's decision and stated that many officials benefit from illegal logging revenue and that consequently political interference with the court system is rife, fuelling a climate of widespread impunity.
Front Line Defenders has previously issued an urgent appeal regarding the killing of human rights defender Chut Wutty, dated 30 April 2012. Front Line Defenders reiterates its call on the Cambodian authorities for an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the killing of Chut Wutty.