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COMMITTEE ON THE HUMAN RIGHTS OF PARLIAMENTARIANS CASE No. CMBD/47 - MU SOCHUA - CAMBODIA
Decision adopted by the Committee at its 134th session 134 (Geneva, 4 - 7 July 2011) Geneva,

The Committee, Referring to the case of Ms. Mu Sochua, an opposition member of the National Assembly of Cambodia, and to the resolution adopted by the Governing Council at its 188th session (April 2011), Taking into account the information provided by one of the sources on 10 June 2011, Recalling the following information on file: Ms. Mu Sochua’s public announcement that she would file a defamation lawsuit against the Prime Minister prompted the latter to file a lawsuit against her, citing as evidence inter alia her complaint to the IPU; while her lawsuit was quickly dismissed, the Prime Minister’s lawsuit proceeded and in June 2010, the Supreme Court upheld the verdict of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court which had found her guilty and ordered her to pay a hefty fine; as Ms. Mu Sochua refused to pay the fine, it was deducted from her MP’s salary, although in such cases, a prison term is normally served; By November 2010, the fine had been paid off in full, but her parliamentary immunity has not been restored; different opinions were given as to how her parliamentary immunity should be restored until the National Assembly stated in a letter of 12 April 2011 that, by virtue of Article 535 of the Penal Code, Ms. Mu Sochua has to wait one year before submitting an application for rehabilitation to the Appeal Court; should no application be submitted, her immunity would be restored automatically after five years; the leader of the Cambodian delegation to the 124th Assembly stated that rehabilitation is governed by the Criminal Code, including for members of parliament and, during the period in question, Ms. Mu Sochua must not commit any other crime if she wishes to be rehabilitated,

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Considering that, in May 2011, while making door-to-door visits in Battambang town to inform inhabitants of their right to free public health care and education, Ms. Mu Sochua and her team of locally elected councillors were reportedly surrounded and threatened by members of the ruling Cambodian Peoples Party (CPP), who accused her of inciting villagers against the government; noting that the opposition team lodged a complaint with the Governor the following day and that Ms. Mu Sochua sent a report about the threats to the Ministry of the Interior, Recalling that United Nations human rights bodies and mechanisms have expressed concern about the independence of the judiciary in Cambodia and that, most recently, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia, in his report to the United Nations Human Rights Council of 16 September 20101, identified freedom of expression as a major cause for concern, along with the numerous challenges faced by the judiciary, and expressed concern about the narrowing of political space, and recommended that defamation and disinformation be decriminalized altogether,
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A/HRC/15/46.

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Deeply regrets that nothing seems to have been done to restore Ms. Mu Sochua’s parliamentary immunity and recalls the concerns expressed in the Governing Council’s resolution of April 2011 at the application of the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code regarding restoration of parliamentary immunity, which has resulted in an additional punishment for Ms. Mu Sochua; Calls on the National Assembly once again to review the legislation concerning parliamentary immunity, regarding both the restoration and the lifting of parliamentary immunity so as to ensure that such immunity becomes an effective tool for protecting members of parliament against any proceedings that may be unfounded and politically motivated; Reaffirms the serious concerns it expressed earlier about the defamation proceedings brought against her by the Prime Minister, which it continues to consider as using the judiciary for political purposes; reiterates in this respect once again its wish to ascertain any action that may have been taken to follow up the recommendations made by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Cambodia; Is concerned that Ms. Mu Sochua and local councillors accompanying her may have been threatened by members of the ruling party because she informed villagers of their rights, which illustrates only that she is carrying out her parliamentary mandate and wishes to ascertain what action, if any, may have been taken upon receiving her report and complaint to prevent such incidents in the future; Requests the Secretary General to convey this decision to the authorities and to the sources; Decides to continue examining this case at its next session, to be held during the 125th IPU Assembly (October 2011).

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