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23 Sep 2020

Khuon Narim, CamboJA

Cambodia: Ratanakiri Court question an environmental activist over intimidation and the use of intentional violence lawsuit

"Ratanakkiri court questions environmental activist", 23 September 2020

The Ratanakkiri Provincial Court questioned an environmental activist … over a lawsuit he filed against six local officials and 10 villagers for intimidation, using intentional violence, and issuing death threats against him.

Deputy prosecutor Ra Borandy confirmed that the court was questioning the plaintiff, Chhorn Phalla, after he had filed the complaint …

The lawsuit comes after Phalla, 41, was allegedly beaten at a public forum on July 8 in Lumphat district’s Seda commune, where he had repeated accusations he had previously made that local authorities had colluded to clear and sell off community forest land in the area in 2017…

In a press conference held in Phnom Penh …, he recalled that after the forum, the Seda commune chief had threatened him with arrest if he did not withdraw his complaint. He said the following day, local authorities drove him in a police vehicle to the station to thumbprint an agreement saying he would withdraw the complaint, but he did not comply as he was too badly injured and was instead taken to the hospital. Police and local officials have denied the accusations.

Phalla said that during his questioning …, he had given an in-depth explanation of the events leading up to his beating … and the subsequent threats he had received from authorities…

Soeng Senkaruna, senior investigator at rights group Adhoc, said civil society groups are concerned that authorities have not taken measures to ensure Phalla’s safety when he return to his home…