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Resolution adopted unanimously by the IPU Governing Council at its 190th session
(Kampala, 5 April 2012)

The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Referring to the case of Ms. Mu Sochua, an opposition member of the National Assembly of Cambodia, and to the resolution adopted at its 189th session (October 2011),

Taking into account the information that members of the Cambodian delegation provided to the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians at the hearing held during the 126th IPU Assembly (April 2012) and of the communication from the Speaker of the National Assembly dated 5 January 2012,

Recalling the following information on file:

  • Ms. Mu Sochua’s public announcement that she would file a defamation lawsuit against Prime Minister Hun Sen 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 once her parliamentary immunity had been lifted by the National Assembly in a closed session, without hearing her arguments and voting by show of hands; 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 heavy fine; as Ms. Mu Sochua refused to pay the fine, it was deducted from her salary as a member of parliament, although in such cases the law provides for the serving of a prison term;

  • The fine had been paid off in full by November 2010, but Ms. Mu Sochua’s parliamentary immunity had not been restored;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 will be restored automatically after five years; the leader of the Cambodian delegation to the 124th IPU Assembly (April 2011) stated that rehabilitation is governed by the Penal 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; according to the source, the Appeal Court is not obliged to render a decision before the expiry of the five-year term, whereupon rehabilitation is automatic; Ms. Mu Sochua needs to be rehabilitated in order to be able to stand in the 2013 parliamentary elections,
Considering that, according to the members of the Cambodian delegation to the 126th IPU Assembly, Ms. Mu Sochua filed an application with the Appeal Court some months ago and that the National Assembly would take a decision on restoring her immunity only once she had been rehabilitated by the Court,

Considering that, according to information provided by the source in January 2012, it appears that a criminal complaint was filed against Ms. Mu Sochua one month after 18 women and children escaped from the Prey Speu Social Affairs Centre; according to the source, the women and children were brought in after they had protested against their eviction in the Borei Keila area of Phnom Penh; they were reportedly held in the Centre for a week without charge; on 18 January 2012, Ms. Mu Sochua visited the centre to appeal for their release; the source affirms that, while she sought to negotiate the release, the detainees escaped by climbing over the wall of the Centre,

Recalling that United Nations human rights bodies and mechanisms have expressed concern about the independence of the judiciary in Cambodia and that 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 2010 (A/HRC/15/46), identified freedom of expression as a major cause for concern, along with the numerous challenges faced by the judiciary, expressed concern about the narrowing of the political space for the opposition and recommended that defamation and disinformation be decriminalized altogether; considering that, in his report of August 2011 (A/HRC/18/46), the Special Rapporteur reiterated his concerns regarding respect for freedom of expression in Cambodia and, with regard to parliament in particular, recommended that the National Assembly should review the new Penal Code with a view to ensuring its compliance with the permissible limitation on freedom of expression under international human rights law, and should safeguard the right to freedom of expression of its own members and protect their parliamentary immunity,

  1. Thanks the Speaker of the National Assembly and the members of the Cambodian delegation for their cooperation;

  2. Considers, however, that they did not provide any new information to dispel its repeated concerns at the application of the provisions of the Penal Code regarding restoration of parliamentary immunity, which has resulted in an additional punishment for Ms. Mu Sochua; is concerned that such application of the Penal Code denies Ms. Mu Sochua the protection that parliamentary immunity would afford against the instigation of further criminal proceedings that had no basis in law, as may be the case of the criminal complaint reportedly recently filed against her;

  3. Trusts that the Appeal Court will rule without delay on Ms. Mu Sochua’s petition for rehabilitation, so as to ensure that she can stand in the 2013 elections, as is her right;

  4. Calls on the National Assembly once again to review the legislation 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 proceedings that may be unfounded and politically motivated; suggests that the IPU, as part of its ongoing programme of assistance to the National Assembly, explore with the parliamentary authorities the possibility of sharing its expertise on that subject;

  5. Reaffirms the grave concerns it has consistently expressed at the defamation proceedings brought against Ms. Mu Sochua by the Prime Minister, which it continues to regard as an instance of exploiting the judiciary for political ends; expresses the earnest hope that the National Assembly will give serious consideration to and follow up on the recommendations made by the United Nations Special Rapporteur regarding defamation, in particular those relating to parliament itself;

  6. Wishes to receive official information on whether or not a new criminal case has been opened against Ms. Mu Sochua and, if so, on the precise accusations and the facts adduced to make them;

  7. Requests the Secretary General to convey this resolution to the parliamentary authorities, inviting them to provide the requested information;

  8. Requests the Committee to continue examining this case and report to it at its next session, to be held during the 127th IPU Assembly (October 2012).
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