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Tep Vanny Sentenced to Prison

Status: 
Sentenced to prison
About the situation

On 8 August 2017, a Court of Appeal in Phnom Penh upheld the conviction and sentencing of human rights defender Tep Vanny, who is currently serving a two and a half year prison sentence for “intentional violence with aggravating circumstances”. 

On 27 March 2017, activists Sar Sorn and Nat Sreynak were arrested and questioned for more than 10 hours for conducting a small “Black Monday” protest calling for the release of Tep Vanny and “The 5” (Lim Mony, Ny Sokha, Nay Vanda, Yi Soksan and Ny Chakrya). They were let go in the evening.

On 23 February 2017, Tep Vanny was convicted and sentenced to two and a half years in prison by Phnom Penh Municipal Court for ‘intentional violence with aggravating circumstances’. 

 

About Tep Vanny

Tep Vanny 2Tep Vanny is a land rights activist and human rights defender combating corruption in Cambodia. She played a prominent role in mobilising Boeung Kak Lake communities against government and private corporations' development plans and the evictions of community residents, for which she was eventually sentenced in 2012.

8 August 2017
Appeal Court upholds Tep Vanny’s sentence

On 8 August 2017, a Court of Appeal in Phnom Penh upheld the conviction and sentencing of human rights defender Tep Vanny, who is currently serving a two and a half year prison sentence for “intentional violence with aggravating circumstances”. 

Tep Vanny is a land rights activist and human rights defender combating corruption in Cambodia. She played a prominent role in mobilising Boeung Kak Lake communities against evictions of community residents in connection with government and private corporations' development plans. Tep Vanny is one of the 13 women human rights defenders (the Boeng Kak 13) who were previously charged and sentenced to 2.5 years imprisonment in May 2012 as a result of their work resisting these development plans.

On 8 August 2017, an Appeals Court rejected Tep Vanny's appeal of her conviction for “intentional violence with aggravated circumstances” under Article 218 of the Cambodian Criminal Code. On 23 February 2017, following a summary trial during which no credible evidence was presented to justify the charges brought against her, she was sentenced to 30 months in jail. She was found guilty of assaulting security guards during a protest outside the house of Prime Minister Hun Sen in 2013. The human rights defender has been detained since her arrest on 15 August 2016.

Front Line Defenders condemns the Court of Appeal’s decision to uphold the sentence of human rights defender Tep Vanny and urges the Cambodian authorities to quash her conviction, which it believes is solely motivated by her peaceful and legitimate work for human rights in Cambodia.

27 March 2017
Police Arrest Protesters Supporting Tep Vanny

On 27 March 2017, activists Sar Sorn and Nat Sreynak were arrested and questioned for more than 10 hours for conducting a small “Black Monday” protest calling for the release of Tep Vanny and “The 5” (Lim Mony, Ny Sokha, Nay Vanda, Yi Soksan and Ny Chakrya). They were let go in the evening.

The activists have been staging so-called Black Monday demonstrations for several months in protest against the jailing of Ms. Vanny and others they deem to be political prisoners. Police were reportedly instructed to arrest activists wearing black and conducting protests. Activists say they will resume demonstrations after the Khmer New Year celebrations (from 14 to 16 April).

23 March 2017
Tep Vanny Pressured to Drop Her Appeal

On 23 March, a day after an appeal for Tep Vanny was filed, WHRD Bov Sophea and 14 other activists met with Kong Chamroeun, a member of Mr. Hun Sen’s cabinet who often deals with land disputes, to hand him a petition urging the prime minister to release Ms. Vanny. Mr. Chamroeun told the activists that Ms. Vanny should drop her appeal if she wanted an early release. According to Ms. Sophea, he told them: “I will tell you the legal procedure for a pardon or reduced sentence: You should go tell the person [Ms. Vanny] to ask to withdraw the appeal and just let the verdict be finalized…. She can ask for a pardon or reduction after the verdict is finalized.”

24 February 2017
Tep Vanny convicted and sentenced to two and a half years in prison

On 23 February 2017, human rights defender Tep Vanny was convicted and sentenced to two and a half years in prison by Phnom Penh Municipal Court for ‘intentional violence with aggravating circumstances’.

Tep Vanny is a land rights activist and human rights defender who works to combat corruption in Cambodia. She played a prominent role in mobilising communities in Boeung Kak Lake to fight against an eviction order agreed between the Government and a private corporation to carry out development plans which would include filling 90% of the lake for domestic and foreign tourists. Tep Vanny is one of the 13 women human rights defenders (the Boeng Kak 13) who were charged and sentenced to 2.5 years imprisonment on 24 May 2012 as a result of their work resisting these development plans. 

On 23 February 2017, Tep Vanny was convicted by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court for ‘intentional violence with aggravating circumstances’  under Article 218 of the Cambodian Criminal Code and sentenced to two and a half years imprisonment. She was found guilty of assaulting security guards during a protest outside the house of Prime Minister Hun Sen in 2013. Her sentence also includes a fine of five million riels (approximately €1,178), and compensation payments to two members of the Daun Penh para-police; four million riels (approximately €942) to the first plaintiff and five million riels (approximately €1,178) to the second plaintiff. During the trial, no credible evidence was presented to justify the charges brought against Tep Vanny. At 8:30 a.m., around sixty supporters of Tep Vanny gathered outside the court. At 9:30 a.m., seven Makara district para-police violently dispersed about thirty-five women and children who were sitting peacefully outside the court. The women and children were forcibly dragged from the area, resulting in three of the women sustaining injuries, two of whom are from the Boeung Kak Lake community.

Tep Vanny had been in pre-trial detention in Prey Sar prison, Phnom Penh since August 2016. On 22 August 2016, she was charged with ‘intentional violence with aggravating circumstances', regarding her role in a protest outside the house of Prime Minister Hun Sen where she demanded the release of human rights defender Yorm Bopha in 2013.

Front Line Defenders condemns the conviction of Tep Vanny, and the violent dispersal of the peaceful protestors. Front Line Defenders urges the Cambodian authorities to drop all charges against her as it is believed they are solely motivated by her peaceful and legitimate work in defence of human rights in Cambodia, in particular her struggle against forced eviction in Boeng Kak Lake.

26 January 2017
Continued judicial harassment of human rights defender Tep Vanny

On 25 January 2017, the Supreme Court in Phnom Penh rejected a bail request by human rights defender Ms Tep Vanny.  Tep Vanny was taken back to Prey Sar prison, Phnom Penh, where she has been in pre-trial detention since August 2016 for ‘intentional violence with aggravating circumstances’.

Tep Vanny is a land rights activist and human rights defender who works to combat corruption in Cambodia. She played a prominent role in mobilising communities in Boeung Kak Lake to fight against an eviction order agreed between the Government and a private corporation to carry out development plans which would include filling 90% of the lake for domestic and foreign tourists. Tep Vanny is one of the 13 women human rights defenders (the Boeng Kak 13) who were charged and sentenced to 2.5 years imprisonment on 24 May 2012.

On 25 January 2017, the Supreme Court in Phnom Penh upheld the lower court’s decision on 17 November 2016 to deny bail of Tep Vanny. Tep Vanny said, “They rejected bail because they worry that I will cause violence. In fact, those causing the violence are the Daun Penh district security guards.” Her trial is scheduled to take place on 3 February 2017.

On 22 August 2016, Tep Vanny was charged with ‘intentional violence with aggravating circumstances” under Article 218 of the Cambodian Criminal Code, regarding her role in a protest outside the house of Prime Minister Hun Sen where she demanded the release of human rights defender Yorm Bopha in 2013. If convicted, she faces up to five years imprisonment and a fine of up to 10 million riels (€ 2,174).   

Front Line Defenders is concerned about the continued judicial harassment against Tep Vanny, and furthermore condemns the irregularities in the judicial process. Front Line Defenders urges the Cambodian authorities to drop all charges against her as it is believed they are solely motivated by her peaceful and legitimate work in defence of human rights in Cambodia, in particular her struggle against forced eviction in Boeng Kak Lake.

22 August 2016
Conviction and additional charge against human rights defender Ms Tep Vanny

On 22 August 2016, human rights defender Ms Tep Vanny was handed down an additional charge of ‘intentional violence with aggravating circumstances’, and sent to pre-trial detention in Prey Sar prison, Phnom Penh. The same day, she and Bov Sophea were convicted of ‘insulting a public official’, and sentenced to six days imprisonment. Front Line Defenders issued an Urgent Appeal regarding the latter charge on 19 August 2016.

Tep Vanny and Bov Sophea are land rights activists and human rights defenders who work to combat corruption in Cambodia. She played a prominent role in mobilising communities in Boeung Kak Lake to fight against an eviction order agreed between the Government and a private corporation to carry out development plans which would include filling 90% of the lake for domestic and foreign tourists. Tep Vanny and Bov Sophea are two of the 13 women human rights defenders (the Boeng Kak 13) who were charged and sentenced to 2.5 years imprisonment on 24 May 2012. 

On 22 August 2016, Tep Vanny and Bov Sophea were convicted and sentenced to six days imprisonment for ‘insulting a public official’, under Article 502 of the Cambodian Criminal Code. The judge altered the original charge of ‘incitement to commit a felony’ during the delivery of his verdict and their lawyers were given no opportunity to defend the altered charge, which violates the right to adequate time and resources for the preparation of a defence.

Since the human rights defenders had already been detained since 15 August, Bov Sophea was released while Tep Vanny was sent to pre-trial detention in Prey Sar prison following an additional charge in a separate case. Tep Vanny was charged with ‘intentional violence with aggravating circumstances” under Article 218 of the Cambodian Criminal Code, regarding her role in a protest outside the house of Prime Minister Hun Sen where she demanded the release of human rights defender Yorm Bopha in 2013. If convicted, she faces up to five years imprisonment and a fine of up to 10 million riels (€ 2,174).    

Front Line Defenders is concerned about the continuous judicial harassment against Tep Vanny, and furthermore condemns the irregularities in the judicial process. Front Line Defenders urges the Cambodian authorities to drop all charges against her as it is believed they are solely motivated by her peaceful and legitimate work in defence of human rights in Cambodia, in particular her struggle against forced eviction in Boeng Kak Lake.
 

19 August 2016
Charges against human rights defenders Tep Vanny and Bov Sophea

On 17 August 2016, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court charged human rights defenders Ms. Tep Vanny and Ms. Bov Sophea with incitement to commit a felony, and sent them to pre-trial detention in Prey Sar prison, Phnom Penh.

Download the Urgent Appeal (PDF)

Tep Vanny and Bov Sophea are land rights activists and human rights defenders who work to combat corruption in Cambodia. They mobilise communities in Boeung Kak Lake to fight against an eviction order agreed between the Government and a private corporation to carry out development plans, which would include filling 90% of the lake for construction linked to the domestic and foreign tourist industry. Tep Vanny and Bov Sophea are two of 13 women human rights defenders (the ‘Boeng Kak 13’) who were charged and sentenced to 2.5 years in prison on 24 May 2012 for joining a Boeung Kak Lake protest. 

On 17 August 2016, human rights defenders Tep Vanny and Bov Sophea were charged with incitement to commit a felony under Article 495 of Cambodia’s Criminal Code, and sent to pre-trial detention in Prey Sar prison. This followed the decision by the Phnom Penh’s Municipal Court to skip judicial investigation procedures and proceed directly to a trial, which will start on 22 August 2016. If convicted, they face up to two years imprisonment and a fine of up to 4 million riels (€ 880). The same day, Marga Bujosa Segoda, a Spanish academic, was also deported by the Immigration Department after being detained for protesting against the arrest of Tep Vanny and Bov Sophea outside the Daun Penh police station on 16 August 2016.

On 15 August 2016, Tep Vanny and Bov Sophea were arrested by Daun Penh district security guards during the 15th Black Monday demonstration. The campaign began on 9 May 2016 to call for the release of five imprisoned human rights defenders who were detained on 2 May 2016 and for justice for the murder of political analyst and Black Monday supporter Kem Ley on 10 July 2016.  Thirty-six people have been arrested since the first Black Monday campaign; however this is the first time protesters have been charged, in a major escalation in police response to the peaceful protests.

Front Line Defenders is concerned about the charges against Tep Vanny and Bov Sophea, which it believes to be directly linked to their peaceful and legitimate work in defence of human rights in Cambodia.

Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in Cambodia to:

1. Immediately release, and withdraw the legal action against, Tep Vanny and Bov Sophea as it is believed that it is solely motivated by their legitimate and peaceful work in defence of human rights;

2. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Cambodia are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.