|Vice President of the Cambodia National Rescue Party|
17 July 2012
|Preceded by||Office established|
|President of the Human Rights Party|
22 July 2007 – 17 July 2012
|Succeeded by||Party dissolved|
27 June 1953 |
|Political party||CNRP (2012-present)
Kem Sokha (Khmer: កឹម សុខា; born 27 June 1953) is a Cambodian politician and human rights activist who is the Vice President of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party. He was previously the President of the Human Rights Party, which merged with the Sam Rainsy Party in 2012.
Kem Sokha is well known for his weekly town hall meetings at local level throughout the country. He was the first to introduce a free and open forum discussing issues concerning civic and political rights, as well as social and economic development, at village level in Cambodia. Kem Sokha is known for his non-violent, political tolerant policy standing on democratic and unity principles. His words are often quoted and repeated by ordinary Cambodians. His phrase "Do Min Do" (literal translation to English: Change or no change) became the anthem for the Cambodia National Rescue Party's historical elections Campaign in July 2013, which drew an unprecedented number of youth participation.
National Assembly of the Kingdom of Cambodia 2008–Present:
• LAND RIGHTS - Active opponent of illegal evictions • CIVIC AND POLITICAL RIGHTS - Initiator of grassroots empowerment and advocacy in Cambodia. • Hold weekly town hall meetings on village level nationwide • Developed Voice of Human Rights, a daily radio program that raises awareness of human rights, specifically civic and political rights, violations
Senate of the Kingdom of Cambodia 1999-2002
• HUMAN RIGHTS - Leading advocate for respect of human rights. • Chaired the Senate Commission on Human Rights and Reception of Complaints
National Assembly of the Kingdom of Cambodia 1993-1998
• HUMAN RIGHTS. Leading advocate for respect of human rights • Chaired the National Assembly Commission on Human Rights and Reception of Complaints • Discovered a “secret prison” torturing political prisoners and issued a report on the case, resulting in death threats from government military • CORRUPTION LAW - The first legislator to introduce an anti-corruption draft. • Introduced the Anti-Corruption and Asset Declaration draft laws • Brought the introduction of the bill to media and international attention • Raised awareness of corruption in Cambodia through media and international advocacy • OTHER INITIATIVES - The first legislator to propose establishment of a number of national institutions. Proposed the creation of the Supreme Council of Magistracy • Proposed the creation of the National Assembly Commission on Human Rights and Reception of Complaints • Proposed the creation of National Human Rights Commission and Ombudsmen
Chairman 2005-2007 Alliance for Freedom of Expression in Cambodia (AFEC) • Led a yellow ribbon campaign to demand freedom of expression • Organized and led two historical marches: a three-day Buddhist march demanding the government to decriminalize defamation charges and a fifteen-day rights march promoting freedom of expression, non-violence and political tolerance The Buddhist march resulted in the abolition of jail time for defamation in 2006.
President 2002-2007 Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR)
• Established nationwide networks of more than 9,000 grassroots activists • Conducted human rights trainings and public forums at commune level across Cambodia • Founded CCHR’s Voice of Democracy radio program, a news radio program that focused on human rights issues
Chairman 2000-2007 Cambodian Working Group for an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism • Collaborated with other country members of the Working Group for an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism to advocate for respect of human rights in the region • Collaborated with members of Cambodian Working Group for an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism, which consists of representatives of government institutions, parliamentary human rights commissions, and NGOs to promote respect for human rights in Cambodia • Advocated for an independent court in Cambodia and establishment of an independent national human rights commission
Chairman 1991-1992 Human Rights Vigilance of Cambodia • Founded Human Rights Vigilance of Cambodia, the first human rights organization in Cambodia • Raised awareness of human rights violations in Cambodia through international advocacy • Accepted complaints and provided legal assistance to victims of rights violation
• Vice-president of Cambodia National Rescue Party April 2013–Present • Vice-president of Democratic Movement for National Rescue July 2012–April 2013 • Elected President of the Human Rights Party 2008–April 2013 • Deputy General Secretary of the FUNCINPEC party 1999-2002 • Deputy General Secretary of the Union of Cambodian Democrats formed by opposition political parties in exile after a coup data in 1997 1997-1998 • General Secretary of the Son San Party, a split from Buddhist Liberal Democratic Party (BLDP) 1995 to 1998 • General Secretary of the BLDP 1992 to 1995
Highlights of major activities and events
• Was one of the leaders of a months-long demonstration participated by tens of thousands to contest the fraudulent results of the 1998 general elections • Took refuge at the U.S. Embassy Cambodia for 50 days after a security threat from the government for organizing a mass demonstration • Co-organized the celebration of Human Rights Day in 2005, joined by local NGOs, and displayed banners with written expressions/concerns by citizens • Was accused and falsely charged for defamation based on the above banners on December 31, 2005 • Was imprisoned for the charge and released 17 days after political pressure from international community • Successfully organized and led a march demanding decriminalization of defamation charges which has protected other rights activists from imprisonment since then. Kem Sohka was named a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International during his detention.
Kem Sokha has a Master of Science in Biochemistry from the Institute of Chemical Technology in Prague, Czech Republic and a law degree from the Royal University of Law and Economics, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
- Human Rights Party
- CCHR - Cambodian Center for Human Rights website
- Newsweek article
- Cambodia arrests rights activist, Guy De Launey, BBC, Phnom Penh
- Working Group for an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism
- Institute of Chemical Technology
- Cambodian Leader Cracks Down in Bid to Solidify Power--New York Times
- BBC: While in U.S., Cambodians Get a Lesson on Rights From Home
- Cambodian Center for Human Rights