Prison eyes on Sokha

The Phnom Penh Post - - NA­TIONAL -

equip­ment in the prison.

“The in­ter­view­ing room be­tween lawyer and client is equipped with cam­era and sound record­ing,” said Sam Sokong, one of Sokha’s team of lawyers. “It vi­o­lates the rights of lawyers and le­gal pro­ce­dures.”

Koet Khy, an­other de­fence lawyer for Sokha, said af­ter com­plain­ing about the use of cam­eras, a prison of­fi­cial claimed the equip­ment was not work­ing be­cause a light­ning strike had wiped out the sys­tem. “We are now pre­par­ing a let­ter to ask why the cam­era is in­stalled in­side the room. It’s not com­mon,” Khy said.

He added that Sokha was be­ing kept in a pri­vate room and was not al­lowed to min­gle with the other in­mates dur­ing his exercise and free time.

The Law on the Statute of Lawyers en­sures that a lawyer has the right to se­crecy when deal­ing with his or her client, es­pe­cially when pre­par­ing court doc­u­ments on their be­half.

Ar­ti­cle 510 of Cam­bo­dia’s Crim­i­nal Pro­ce­dures Code also stip­u­lates that a “de­tainee is entitled to have con­fi­den­tial con­ver­sa­tions with his/her lawyer”, with Ar­ti­cle 149 say­ing such dis­cus­sions cannot “be lis­tened to or recorded by oth­ers”. A sim­i­lar ar­ti­cle also ex­ists in the Law on Prisons.

Prison Di­rec­tor Phin Yan, how­ever, claimed that around 20 CCTV cam­eras, most of which were now bro­ken, had been in­stalled more than a year ago and were not be­ing used to record Sokha’s con­ver­sa­tions.

“They can find an­other place here, but we don’t have space for them be­sides this space to meet,” he said.

Prisons Depart­ment spokesman San Keo de­nied that the cam­eras were be­ing used to lis­ten in on con­ver­sa­tions and said they were only for in­mate safety.

If the con­ver­sa­tions be­tween Sokha and his coun­sel were in­deed recorded, such surveil- lance would also be in vi­o­la­tion of the In­ter­na­tional Covenant on Civil and Po­lit­i­cal Rights, which gives the ac­cused and their lawyers the right to pri­vacy, said le­gal ex­pert Sok Sam Oeun. The treaty is recog­nised by the Cam­bo­dian gov­ern­ment and con­sti­tu­tion. “Some­times the lawyer cannot work to their full ef­fort be­cause the ac­cused may be scared to talk to them freely,” he said.

He said the lawyers should re­port vi­o­la­tions to the Prisons Depart­ment but said lo­cal laws had no re­course for such a sce­nario.

Hu­man Rights Watch’s Phil Robert­son said given the cor­rupt and po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated na­ture of Cam­bo­dia’s ju­di­ciary it was not sur­pris­ing that “bo­gus charges” against Sokha were be­ing fol­lowed up with “sham pro­ce­dures”. “The only law that counts in Cam­bo­dia is the po­lit­i­cal fist of PM Hun Sen and that’s what is com­ing down on Kem Sokha’s head right now,” he said, re­fer­ring to gov­ern­ment claims it was only fol­low­ing the rule of law in ar­rest­ing the op­po­si­tion head.

Sokha’s le­gal team filed two mo­tions ear­lier this week – one in the Ph­nom Penh Mu­nic­i­pal Court to drop the charges against Sokha and the other with the Appeal Court chal­leng­ing the lower court’s de­ci­sion to send the CNRP pres­i­dent to pretrial de­ten­tion, Sokong said.


Op­po­si­tion leader Kem Sokha is es­corted from his home by po­lice fol­low­ing his mid­night ar­rest in Ph­nom Penh ear­lier this month.

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