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The lawyer ‘who by no means received a political case’ modifications careers — Radio Free Asia

Choung Chou Ngy hopes his political profession is extra profitable than his authorized one has been.


As an lawyer, Choung Chou Ngy was given a number of the hardest instances in Cambodia, a rustic that below strongman Hun Sen routinely stifles dissent. Courts appointed him to characterize opposition political leaders, social activists and poor landholders who had run afoul of the autocratic authorities.


It was a tricky job. A lot so, that Chou Ngy jokingly refers to himself because the “lawyer who by no means received a political case” — a self-deprecating moniker that claims extra concerning the state of civil society in Cambodia than his qualities as an lawyer.


Now, Choung Chou Ngy, who says he’s in his 50s, is making an attempt to combat his nation’s antagonism to human rights from one other angle: He introduced he’ll run for Parliament as a member of the opposition Candlelight Get together, which has emerged as the principle challenger to Hun Sen’s Cambodian Individuals’s Get together.


“As a lawyer, there are restrictions by career, however as a politician, I’m free to see individuals,” he stated, which means he will get to make his case earlier than potential constituents moderately than a choose.


What received’t change, Choung Chou Ngy stated, is his give attention to Cambodia’s courts, which dominated towards his shoppers in nearly each trial, though he stated his report as an lawyer improved in instances that didn’t contain bribes.


“I clearly see that I’ve a vital position to play in defending activists, defending those that dare to protest for justice, for democracy in Cambodia, so my position is necessary in serving to to advertise Cambodia to respect the legislation or the rule of legislation,” he stated.


Court docket challenges


Choung Chou Ngy stated he confronted quite a few difficulties in his authorized profession. He typically needed to dip into his personal checking account to assist current a consumer’s case. And he stated he generally confronted private threats as he defended social activists and Cambodians combating to retain their land towards politically linked builders.


He himself was sentenced to 2 years in jail and fined 3 million riel (U.S. $725) by the Kandal Provincial Court docket for his protection of a bunch of villagers locked in a land dispute. He’s accused of taking his shoppers out of detention in an area police station. He denies the allegation, saying the villagers have been free to go away. The case is pending.


Choung Chou Ngy has additionally defended a few of Cambodia’s most distinguished opponents to one-party rule, together with Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha, the previous co-founders of the Cambodia Nationwide Rescue Get together (CNRP), which was disbanded by the Cambodian Supreme Court docket in 2017 at Hun Sen’s request. The choice allowed the CPP to fill each seat within the Nationwide Meeting within the 2018 election.


Sam Rainsy now lives in exile in France, whereas Kem Sokha stays on trial for “treason,” a cost broadly seen as politically motivated. 


In 2021, the U.S. State Division stated Cambodia faces “important” human rights points, citing credible stories of arbitrary detentions, extreme restrictions on free expression, and “critical issues with the independence of the judiciary.” 


‘That’s his coronary heart’


Lao Mong Hay, a political activist and director of the Khmer Institute of Democracy, praised Choung Chou-Ngy ‘s braveness and generosity.


“He took his career as a lawyer to assist these in want. That’s his coronary heart,” Lao Mong Hay stated.


Choung Chou Ngy was born in Preah Prosop village in Kandal province, which surrounds the capital Phnom Penh in Cambodia’s southeast. His mother and father are farmers. He labored as a trainer for 2 years after graduating with a bachelor’s diploma in physics from the Royal College of Phnom Penh.


Choung Chou Ngy then studied legislation and acquired a grasp’s diploma in public administration earlier than changing into an lawyer in 2004. He stated his mom instructed him to be accountable, to not abuse his place, and to combat for justice.



“It’s essential to have individuals who dare to sacrifice themselves, sacrifice for the sake of peace,” he stated.


A must meditate


He has been concerned in politics beforehand, although not as a candidate. Earlier than he labored as an lawyer, Choung Chou Ngy was a member of CNRP’s board. Along with the ban on the get together, 118 of its members have been blocked from taking part in politics for 5 years. That prohibition was lifted on Nov. 16, permitting Choung Chou Ngy to run. 


It has at all times been dangerous to problem Hun Sen’s rule, however Choung Chou Ngy is re-entering politics at a very fraught time. 


The CNRP ban precipitated a crackdown on dissent that continues. The prime minister, who has dominated Cambodia for almost 4 a long time, appears intent on having his son, Hun Mamet, succeed him. With the 2023 election eight months away, Hun Sen already has threatened to ban Candlelight over feedback Rainsy made to RFA disparaging King Norodom Sihamoni. 


Choung Chou Ngy stated he coped along with his disappointments as an lawyer by meditating along with his spouse, who can be a lawyer, of their rented residence in Phnom Penh. The apply helped the couple preserve a degree of serenity within the face of the injustices they witness, he stated.


As a member of Parliament, he says he would have extra instruments with which to combat again. One purpose, he stated, is to advertise a legislative mechanism to punish corrupt judges and prosecutors like those he and his shoppers confronted in courtroom. 



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