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Cambodia: Phnom Penh Court deny bail requests of prominent union leader Rong Chhun and another woman human rights defenders

"Rong Chhun and Sar Kanika denied bail amid COVID-19 prison outbreak", 8 June 2021

Prominent unionist Rong Chhun and youth activist Sar Kanika were denied bail at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court ... The decision comes amid an unprecedented COVID-19 outbreak in Cambodia’s prisons, with justice ministry officials discussing potentially releasing juvenile inmates nearing the end of their sentences back into their communities.

Cambodian Confederation of Unions president Rong Chhun was arrested … for a Facebook post and comments he made on Radio Free Asia claiming that farmers in Tbong Khmum province had lost land during the demarcation of the Cambodia-Vietnam border. He was charged with incitement to cause social disorder ... Kanika, who is a member of youth group Khmer Thavrak …, was arrested and also charged with incitement while calling for the union leader’s release…

Chhun and Kanika were not present at the bail hearing after prison officials at Prey Sar Prison requested the court to suspend prisoner transportation amid a COVID-19 outbreak in the correctional centre, according to statements made by the deputy prosecutor and judge during the hearing.

In the hearing room, deputy prosecutor Seng Hieng said there was no clear basis for the defendants to be bailed.

“This crime affects social security, so [the court] does not allow them bail,” Hieng said…

Lawyers of both the defendants said they had applied for bail because their clients had been detained for more than 11 months already — nearly half the length of the maximum sentence for incitement, which carries a prison term of between six months and two years…

Defense lawyer Sam Sokong said that he believed the court’s decision was unreasonable…

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