Cambodia: Arbitrary arrest of human rights defender Mr Kuch Veng

On 19 May 2013, human rights defender Mr Kuch Veng was arrested by four police officers at Kbal Trach commune, Krako district, Pursat village. Kuch Veng is a land rights activist and is a member of the Community Peace Network.
At 9.30am, four police officers from Kbal Tranch Commune Police led by Mr Nhoeuk Sophea arrested the human rights defender in Don Nak Pring area in Kbal Trach commune while he was visiting ten families of villagers who are effected by the land conflict with Pheapimex, a land development firm owned by a businessman Mr Choeung Sopheap and the wife of the Cambodia People’s Party Senator Mr Lao Meng Khin.
According to an eyewitness, the police did not show the court order and did not state a clear reason for his arrest. During the arrest, Kuch Veng’s sister, Ms Chrep Samuth, was intimidated and harassed.
The police told the villagers that if they wanted to know the charges, they would have to go to the district police station. It is reported that Kuch Veng was later sent to the Pursat Provincial Court at 9am on 20 May 2013.
Kuch Veng has been active with the Community Peace Network since 2010. He has been involved in land rights work since 2000 when Pheapimex started to be active in the area. Front Line Defenders is informed that Kuch Veng has been arrested many times before on account of his work on land rights.
Front Line Defenders believes that the arrest of Kuch Veng is directly related to his work in the defence of human rights, in particular on land rights, and sees this as part of a pattern of ongoing harassment against the human rights defender.