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ESCR-Net Urges Government to Free Boeung Kak Activists and Their Supporters

On December 5th, the International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR-Net) sent a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen expressing their concerns over the recent detention, conviction, and sentencing of the Boeung Kak Lake activists and their supporters.

“The letter, endorsed by more than 220 organizations and 50 individuals in 70 countries, raises particular concern that the arrests, summons and charges are acts of reprisal against those who seek to defend human rights and calls the Cambodian government to cease all politically motivated convictions against human rights defenders working to promote the rights of people living around the Boeung Kak Lake area” (ESCR-Net, Dec. 8th).

ESCR-Net also asks for an investigation into the alleged human rights violations of Shukaku Inc. The construction company, owned by Senator Lao Meng Khin, is responsible for filling Boeung Kak Lake for commercial real-estate development. This led to the forcible eviction of almost 20,000 people from the area by the Municipality of Phnom Penh in 2008. Since then, the remaining residents have suffered from chronic flooding which has heavily impacted their health, homes, and businesses.

An excerpt from the ESCR-Net letter summarizes the recommendations to the government:

  1. Cease all further reprisals, including arbitrary arrests, detentions and politically motivated convictions against human rights defenders working to promote the rights of people living around the Boeung Kak Lake area;
  1. Guarantee the right to liberty and security of person, and the right to humane treatment during detention for Ms Tep Vanny, Ms Nget Khun, Ms Song Sreyleap, Ms Kong Chantha, Ms Pan Chunreth, Ms Bo Chorvy and Ms Nong Sreng, as well as Ms. Heng Pich, Ms. Im Srey Touch, Ms. Phuong Sopheap and Venerable Soeung Hai;
  1. Carry out effective, independent, prompt and impartial investigations into all alleged human rights violations that are connected with, or have resulted from, the forced eviction of the Boeung Kak Lake communities, including addressing the problems related to flooding, drainage, compensation, on-site infrastructure upgrading and off-site resettlement, in accordance with standards established by the Basic Principles; and
  1. Carry out effective, independent, prompt and impartial investigations into all alleged human rights violations that are connected with, or have resulted from, the actions of Shukaku Inc, and take appropriate steps to ensure, through judicial, administrative, legislative or other appropriate means, that those communities affected by such business-related human rights abuses have access to effective remedy.

The complete letter is available at http://www.escr-net.org/node/365714