Reacting to the decision of the Appeal Court in Phnom Penh today to uphold the two-and-a-half year jail sentence of Cambodian human rights defender Tep Vanny, Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Deputy Campaigns Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said:
“This is a sad day not only for Tep Vanny and her family, but for human rights in Cambodia. She is a brave activist who has been jailed for nothing but peacefully defending the rights of her community, and should never have been charged in the first place. Tep Vanny must be released immediately and unconditionally.
“Today’s decision again puts into question the independence of the judiciary in Cambodia and seems to confirm that courts in the country are little more than an extension of the government, using trumped up criminal charges to harass and imprison critics.
“This ruling comes at a time when the Cambodian authorities are stepping up a crackdown on critics ahead of next year’s general election. Instead of trying to silence debate, the government must ensure that everyone’s right to peacefully protest or voice an opinion are respected.”
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