សេចក្តីថ្លែងការណ៍

STATEMENT: Cambodian Government Must Act to End Human Rights Abuses in Microfinance Sector

7 May 2024

The Cambodian government must urgently act to address predatory lending and abusive collection practices in the country’s microfinance sector, local and international CSOs urge in a submission ahead of the UN Human Rights Council’s universal periodic review (UPR) of Cambodia.

The call to address long-standing and widely reported abuses in Cambodia’s microfinance sector comes as 30 recommendations made in the 2019 UPR cycle to improve the human rights situation have gone unheeded due to a lack of meaningful government oversight. This has enabled Cambodia’s microloan sector to balloon in recent years, with average loan sizes rising to over $5,000—the highest in the world—and coerced debt-driven land sales happening in significant numbers across the country.

Our organisations’ submission comes after years of monitoring and researching borrowers’ complaints. It details reporting and evidence from various sources on how the debt burdens in Cambodia have negatively impacted the right to education, the right to health, the right to food, the right to an adequate standard of living, and the rights of Indigenous Peoples, among others.

The UN Secretary-General warned against the foreseeable loss of land due to Cambodia’s high average microloan repayment sizes and the use of land as collateral in September 2021. The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights expressed concern in March 2023 that microfinance loans were negatively impacting the right to an adequate standard of living. Three quantitative studies undertaken in the last two years found that roughly 6% of borrowers had sold land to repay microloan debts. One study’s findings indicate that 167,000 Cambodians sold their land to repay microloans between 2017 and 2022.

In his 2022 and 2023 reports to the Human Rights Council, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia called for debt relief and more direct governmental action to regulate financial practices and monitor lenders in order to stem the serious plight of land loss and the rise in poverty associated with microfinance debt. In a 2022 survey, over 3% of children in surveyed households had dropped out of school specifically due to a microloan, and over 4% of children—including children as young as 10 years old—were working specifically to pay back a microloan. In a representative survey, 18.3% of borrower households said they ate less food after taking out their loan, and 8.5% of households reported not having enough food for their family to eat.

To date, there has been no meaningful action by the Cambodian government on reforms. We are urging all stakeholders, including the Cambodian government, to take urgent action to ensure an end to these abuses. We call on UN Member States to ask Cambodia about its record on protecting microfinance borrowers on 8 May 2024 during the 46th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.

We further call on UN Member States to propose and for the Cambodian government to accept recommendations to:

  • Implement Economic, Social & Cultural Rights and Protect the rights of Indigenous Peoples. Prohibit the use of land titles as collateral for microloans, prioritizing loans given to IDPoor and Indigenous borrowers. Return all land titles currently being held as collateral for microloans.
  • Promote the Right to an Adequate Standard of Living. Establish debt relief for over-indebted families and prioritise relief for Indigenous Peoples and IDPoor households.
  • Progress the Right to Health, the Right to Food, and the Right to Education. Take concrete steps to implement free healthcare and primary and secondary school education for all Cambodians in order to reduce the debt incurred from these costs.

For more information, contact:

  • Naly Pilorge, Outreach Director of LICADHO, on Signal at +85512214454, Email: advocacy@licadho-cambodia.org (English).
  • Mathias Pfeifer, Program Officer at FIAN Germany, on Signal at +4917654113988, Email: m.pfeifer@fian.de (English and German).
  • Vuthy Eang, Executive Director of Equitable Cambodia, on Signal at +85512791700 (English and Khmer).
  • Saran Soeung, Executive Director of Sahmakum Teang Tnaut, on Signal at +85589666013, Email: director@teangtnaut.org (English and Khmer).

The PDF file can be accessed here: Khmer language  English language  French language  German language

Joint Statement Re-Open STT’s Photo Exhibition and Hold Authorities to Account

12 March 2024

We, the undersigned, are disappointed by the actions of the Sangkat Nirouth Police Station in Khan Chbar Ampov, Phnom Penh, which ordered the owner of Champei Garden Restaurant to stop displaying photographs that were part of an exhibition by Sahmakum Teang Tnaut (STT). The authorities provided no reason or justification for their actions.

The topic of the photo exhibition was Housing and Life, and it had opened on 25 February 2024. It aimed to highlight the ongoing concerns and challenges facing Cambodia’s urban poor communities, with the purpose of finding solutions.

The dismantling of STT’s photo exhibition without explanation is a clear violation of freedom of expression and demonstrates a disregard for art forms that tell the important stories of vulnerable and urban poor communities. We remain disturbed about the continuation of these kinds of arbitrary crackdowns on peaceful forms of expression under the new government.

Cambodia’s constitution enshrines freedom of expression and the rule of law. Instead of silencing peaceful voices that raise legitimate concerns about Cambodia’s urban poor communities, authorities should direct their efforts towards addressing the causes of harms – such as land grabbing, predatory microlending practices, and debt bondage – that currently plague those communities.

We, as civil society organisations in Cambodia, call for the Housing and Life exhibition to be allowed to continue without interference. We also request that the Ministry of Interior monitor the activities of the authorities in Khan Chbar Ampov and Sangkat Nirouth Police Station and that the ministry instruct them to provide their reasoning behind the dismantling of STT’s exhibition. Furthermore, we request that both institutions be held accountable for their actions, and for the Ministry of Interior to counsel all authorities on topics pertaining to freedom of expression and the rule of law so as to protect the rights of all Cambodian people.

This joint statement is endorsed by:

  1. Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia(COMFREL)
  2. Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR)
  3. Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (CENTRAl)
  4. Cambodian Institute for Democracy (CID)
  5. Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC)
  6. Cambodian Youth Network (CYN)
  7. Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDIEA)
  8. Kao Pi Community
  9. Chamreun Community
  10. Chhma Aeot Community
  11. Dak Por Community (Kompong Speu)
  12. Srae Prang Land Community (Tboung Khmum)
  13. Land Community (Pailin)
  14. Andoung Trabek Land Community (Svay Rieng)
  15. 197 Land Community (Koh Kong)
  16. Trapang Chour Community (Kampong Spue)
  17. Trapang Rang Community
  18. Tlan 100 Community
  19. Community to Protect Nature (Pursat)
  20. Stueng Khsach Sa Forestry Resource (Kampong Chhnang)
  21. Tumnop Ta Thlang Community
  22. Boeung Chhouk Meanchey Tmey 2 Community
  23. Boeung Chhuk A Community
  24. Boeung Trabek Phum 4 Community
  25. Phlov Roth Phleung Community
  26. Cheyleak Community
  27. Pong Ro Senchey Community
  28. Trapang Chan Forestry Community (Kampong Chhnang)
  29. Prey Chher Phnom Tnaut Community
  30. Prey Chher Pech Changvar Laor Chhert Community (Kampong Chhnang)
  31. Rattanak Rokha Forestry Community (Oddar Meanchey)
  32. Prey Lang Community (Kratie)
  33. Prey Lang Community (Preah Vihear)
  34. Prey Lang Community (Stung Treng)
  35. Prek Takong 3 Community
  36. Prek Takong 60m Community
  37. Prey Peay Community
  38. Phnom Krom Community (Siem Reap)
  39. Meanchey Community
  40. Rolous Cheung Ek community
  41. Raksmey Samaki Community
  42. Reaksmei Sameakki (Kompong Spue)
  43. Veal Entry Community
  44. Veal Sbov Community
  45. Smor San Community
  46. Samaki Chek Meas Community
  47. Samaki Romeas Hek Community
  48. Samaki Rong Roeung Community
  49. Strey Klahan Community
  50. Strey Klang Sang Community
  51. Stoeng Kambot Community
  52. Sen Reak Reay Community
  53. Lor Peang Community
  54. Andoung Ta Eang Community
  55. Amleang Community (Kompong Spue)
  56. Russey Sros Community
  57. Cambodian Food and Service Workers’ Federation (CFSWF)
  58. Transparency International Cambodia (TI)
  59. Community Legal Education Center (CLEC)
  60. Sahmakum Teang Tnaut Organization (STT)
  61. Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO)
  62. Equitable Cambodia (EC)

For more information

  1. Am Sam Ath, Operations Director of LICADHO, contact :(+855) 10 327 770
  2. Mr. Seang Muoylay, Rights to the City Program Manager, contact: (+855) 16 899 465

PDF format: Joint Statement

The Statement of World Habitat Day 2023

On the 38th World Habitat Day, we, the people from the land and housing communities in Phnom Penh and the provinces, are facing insecurity regarding land and housing due to inadequate development. We are concerned about forced evictions and insufficient compensation, as we have historically endured such hardships. The Cambodian Constitution, specifically Article 44, guarantees the right to own property and proper housing for all citizens. Additionally, international human rights law, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, guarantees the right to adequate housing.
During the week of October 1-7, 2023, in commemoration of World Habitat Day, over 1,000 community members, youth, and local authorities from 16 communities in Phnom Penh and other affected provinces gathered under the theme of “Housing Justice and Inclusive Development.” This event aimed to address the violations of land and housing rights.
On World Habitat Day 2023, we urge the government to take the following actions:
– The Royal Government should respect and protect the rights of impoverished individuals to live with decency and dignity, in line with other citizens.
– The Royal Government must effectively enforce the law and cease forced evictions, violence, and judicial oppression, particularly targeting land and housing activists.
– The Royal Government, along with authorities at all levels, should prioritize the right to adequate housing for comprehensive development.
– All development projects should conduct assessments of their social, economic, and environmental impacts, paying special attention to vulnerable populations.
– Local authorities should expedite the issuance of residence cards, family books, and equity cards to land community members lacking access to social services.
– Phnom Penh Capital Hall should provide infrastructure and improved services in impoverished residential areas, including drainage, garbage collection, and connection to state water and electricity networks.
– Relevant government authorities must ensure that all development processes adhere to the principles of the rule of law, including openness, transparency, accountability, and stakeholder involvement. Affected individuals, in particular, should have a voice in discussing concerns and potential resolutions for the benefit of all parties involved.

Joint Statement Immediately Drop Charges Against 10 Koh Kong Land Activists; Release All Unconditionally

Phnom Penh, 06 July 2023

 

We, the undersigned, call for the baseless charges of incitement against 10 land activists from three communities in Koh Kong province to be immediately dropped, and for their unconditional release. These activists did nothing but peacefully raise concerns and speak out in defence of their land and fellow community members, but have been harassed and imprisoned for doing so.

The 10 activists were arrested and charged with incitement under Articles 494 and 495 of the Criminal Code on 29 June 2023. Nine of them are currently in pre-trial detention in Koh Kong provincial prison; one was released on bail with restrictive conditions. The charges followed their attempt to peacefully travel to Phnom Penh to submit a petition to the Ministry of Justice. If convicted, each activist faces up to two years in prison and a fine of up to 4 million riel (about US$1000).

The 10 activists are Ms. Phav Nheung; Ms. Det Huor; Ms. Yi Kunthea; Mr. Sok Chey; Mr. Heng Chey; Ms. Tin Tang; Mr. Lang Cheav; Ms. Seng Lin; Mr. Yoeut Khmao; and Ms. Soung Theng. Theng is the only activist released on bail with restrictive conditions. The other nine activists (together with Nheung’s 18-month-old baby) remain in Koh Kong prison. The prison is horrendously overcrowded and was at nearly 300% capacity last month. Furthermore, the activists were only granted access to legal representation on 3 July, after spending three days in pre-trial detention.

The activists were taken into custody after police blocked community members’ vans in Sre Ambel district and prevented them from travelling to Phnom Penh to deliver the petition on 29 June. The petition requested that Minister of Justice Koeut Rith intervene and for the prosecution to drop the charges against 30 land activists from across five communities.

Police also threatened around 20 other community members with arrest when they gathered in front of the provincial police station on 30 June to support their representatives. Community members were similarly prevented from gathering outside the Koh Kong provincial court.

The activists have endured numerous disputes dating back as far as 2006, after companies linked to tycoons Ly Yong Phat and Heng Huy established sugar plantations on community land. However, the activists’ efforts to protect their land have been continually met with authority-led harassment.

We call for an immediate end to this harassment of Cambodia’s land activists, including for the charges of incitement against them to be dropped, and their immediate and unconditional release from pre-trial detention.

This joint statement is endorsed by:

  1. 197 Land Community (Koh Kong)
  2. 243 Families of Pro Lean Land Community (Koh Kong)
  3. Am Leang Community (Kampong Speu)
  4. Andong Trabek Land Community (Svay Rieng)
  5. Bos Snor Community (Tbong Khmum)
  6. Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR)
  7. Cambodian Center for Independent Media (CCIM)
  8. Cambodian Food and Service Workers’ Federation (CFSWF)
  9. Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC)
  10. Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO)
  11. Cambodian Tourism Workers Union Federation (CTWUF)
  12. Cambodian Youth Network (CYN)
  13. Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (CENTRAL)
  14. Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (COMFREL)
  15. Community to Protect Nature (Pursat)
  16. Dak Por Community (Kampong Speu)
  17. Equitable Cambodia (EC)
  18. Gender and Development for Cambodia (GADC)
  19. Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA)
  20. Kamprers Community (Tboung Khmum)
  21. Kleang Toek 78 Community (Siem Reap)
  22. Kouy​ Indigenous​​ Community (Preah Vihear)
  23. Labour Right Supported Union Khmer Employee of Nagaworld (L.R.S.U)
  24. Lor Peang Community (Kampong Chhnang)
  25. Mean Chey Land Community (Svay Rieng)
  26. Mother Nature Cambodia (MNC)
  27. Ou Vor Preng Community (Battambang)
  28. Pailin Land Community
  29. People Center for Development and Peace (PDP)
  30. Phum Sela Khmer Land Community (Banteay Meanchey)
  31. Prey Chher Pech Changvar Laor Chhert Community (Kampong Chhnang)
  32. Prey Lang Community (Kampong Thom)
  33. Prey Peay Land Community (Kampot)
  34. Rattanak Rokha Forestry Community (Oddar Meanchey)
  35. Reaksmei Sameakki Community (Kampong Speu)
  36. Samaki Romeas Haek Community (Svay Rieng)
  37. Sahmakum Teang Tnaut (STT)
  38. Social Action for Community and Development (SACD)
  39. Sre Prang Community (Tboung Khmum)
  40. Steung Khsach Sor Forestry Resource (Kampong Chhnang)
  41. Skun Community (Siem Reap)
  42. Ta Ni Land Community (Siem Reap)
  43. Ta Pen Community (Siem Reap)
  44. The Cambodian NGO Committee on CEDAW (NGO-CEDAW)
  45. The Messenger Band Cambodia (MB)
  46. Tonlung Community (Tboung Khmum)
  47. Transparency International Cambodia (TIC)
  48. Trapeang Chan Forestry Community (Kampong Chhnang)
  49. Trapeang Chour Community (Kampong Speu)
  50. Trapeang Pring Community (Tboung Khmum)
  51. Youth Resources Development Program (YRDP)

PDF format:  Download full statement in Khmer Download full statement in English

Immediately Release and Drop Charges Against CCFC staffers

Phnom Penh, 24 May 2023

The arrest of three staffers from the Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Community (CCFC) and the unfounded charges of incitement and plotting against the nation marks yet another case of Cambodian authorities imprisoning human rights defenders for their peaceful activism.

We, the undersigned groups, demand an end to the persecution of human rights defenders, and call for the three CCFC staffers to be immediately and unconditionally released, so they can continue their work.

On the morning of 18 May, police formally arrested Theng Savoeun, CCFC president; Nhel Pheap, a senior organizing officer; and Thann Hach, who works as a community facilitator. They were first detained in Kratie province on the way to Phnom Penh on 17 May while they were travelling with dozens of people following an event in Ratanakiri province, and later transferred to Ratanakiri Police Commissariat.

Their lawyer was only able to speak with Savoeun in Ratanakiri Police Commissariat after his arrest in Kratie on 1​9 May and before his transfer to Ratanakiri provincial court. On 22 May, their lawyer was again permitted to meet with Savoeun during his questioning at the Ratanakiri Provincial Court, and to briefly speak with Hach.

During the afternoon of 22 May, Investigating Judge Say Kouhav charged Savoeun, Pheap, and Hach with plotting under Article 453 and incitement under Articles 494 and 495 of the Criminal Code. The three men face up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to 4 million Riel (around US$1,000) if convicted.​ Based on a statement from the Ratanakiri court, Chan Vibol, an academic, has also been charged with the same offences.

These charges are baseless. CCFC is a farmer’s association founded in 2011 that works with more than 70 communities across 10 provinces, assisting farmers facing forced evictions and helping to promote land rights where it is needed most. The association supports local communities to stand up for their rights, and advocates for better livelihoods and land rights for rural farmers across Cambodia.

The work of human rights activists must not be equated to criminal incitement or plotting against the nation. Arresting CCFC staffers will not resolve the long-running land conflicts faced by its members. It will not silence the voices of the community leaders and representatives who demand justice for their neighbours, friends and families.

The arrests have sparked days of protests by land communities across the country, who know that these charges are an attempt to suppress their activism, and will ultimately hinder a resolution to their land conflicts.

Savoeun, Pheap and Hach need to be immediately freed, and the charges against them must be dropped. Community organising is not a crime. Releasing these activists is a crucial step towards achieving true peace and justice in Cambodia.

  1. 197 Land Community (Koh Kong)
  2. 243 Families of Pro Lean Village Land Community (Koh Kong)
  3. 955 land community (Koh Kong)
  4. Am Leang Community (Kampong Speu)
  5. Andong Trabek Land Community (Svay Rieng)
  6. Bos Snor Community (Tbong Khmum)
  7. Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions (CATU)
  8. Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR)
  9. Cambodian Center for Independent Media (CCIM)
  10. Cambodian Food and Service Workers’ Federation (CFSWF)
  11. Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC)
  12. Cambodian Labor Confederation (CLC)
  13. Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO)
  14. Cambodian Tourism Workers Union Federation (CTWUF)
  15. Cambodian Youth Network (CYN)
  16. Cambodia’s Independent Civil Servants Association (CICA)
  17. Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (CENTRAL)
  18. Charay Indigenous Community (Ratanak Kiri)
  19. Chi Kha Kraom Land Community (Koh Kong)
  20. Chi Kha Leu Land Community (Koh Kong)
  21. Choam Kravien Community (Tboung Khmum)
  22. Coalition of Cambodian Farmers Community Association (CCFC)
  23. Community to Protect Nature (Pursat)
  24. Dak Por Community (Kampong Speu)
  25. Equitable Cambodia (EC)
  26. Federation of Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia (FTUWKC)
  27. Gender and Development for Cambodia (GADC)
  28. Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA)
  29. Indigenous Community in Prame Commune (Preah Vihear)
  30. Khmum Srakarthlork Community (Kampong Thom)
  31. Klaing Toek 78 Community (Siemreap)
  32. Kouy​ Indigenous​​ Community (Preah Vihear)
  33. Labour Right Supported Union Khmer Employee of Nagaworld (L.R.S.U)
  34. Land Community (Pailin)
  35. Mean Chey Land Community (Svay Rieng)
  36. Peam Ros Community (Kampong Speu)
  37. People Center for Development and Peace (PDP-Center)
  38. Phnom Krom Community (Siemreap)
  39. Phnom Tor Toeung Community (Kampot)
  40. Phum Sela Khmer Land Community (Banteay Meanchey)
  41. Prek Ksach Land Community (Koh Kong)
  42. Prey Chher Pech Changvar Laor Chhert Community (Kampong Chhnang)
  43. Prey Lang Community (Preah Vihear)
  44. Prey Peay Land Community (Kampot)
  45. Rattanak Rokha Forestry Community (Oddar Meanchey)
  46. Reaksmei Sameakki Community (Kampong Speu)
  47. Sahmakum Teang Tnaut (STT)
  48. Samaki Chek Meas Community (Svay Rieng)
  49. Samaki Romeas Haek Community (Svay Rieng)
  50. Samaki Sangkae Pir Mean Rith (Preah Vihear)
  51. Sre Prang Community (Tboung Khmum)
  52. Steung Khsach Sor Forestry Resource (Kampong Chhnang)
  53. Ta Ni Land Community (Siemreap)
  54. Ta Noun Land Community (Koh Kong)
  55. The Cambodian NGO Committee on CEDAW (NGO-CEDAW)
  56. The Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (COMFREL)
  57. Thmar Da Community (Pursat)
  58. Tonlung Community (Tboung Khmum)
  59. Trapeang Chour Community (Kampong Speu)
  60. Trapeang Pring Community (Tboung Khmum)
  61. Youth Resources Development Program (YRDP)

PDF format:  Download full statement in Khmer Download full statement in English

Press Release Celebration of the 112th Anniversary of International Women’s Day under the topic “Protecting Women and Girls for Inclusive Justice”

Phnom Penh, 01 March 2023

We, a group of civil society organizations (CSOs) including unions, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and associations working for promoting women’s rights and gender equality in Cambodia, such as the Cambodian Food and Service Workers’ Federation (CFSWF), Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR), Cambodian Alliance of Trade Union (CATU), Cambodian Tourism Workers Union Federation (BWTUC), Labour Right Supported Union (LRSU), Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA), Cambodian Youth Network Association (CYN), Youth Resource Development Program (YRDP), Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (CENTRAL), Sahmakum Teang Tnaut Organization (STT), Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC), Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO), Klahaan Organization, and Equitable Cambodia (EC), have the honor to inform the general public, and national and international journalists that we are going to celebrate the 112th anniversary of the International Women’s Day . The topic for the 2023 commemoration is “Protecting Women and Girls for Inclusive Justice”.

The purpose of this celebration is to recognize the hard work and efforts made by women, girls, and women human rights defenders (WHRDs) from all sectors, to raise public awareness about the demands and challenges of women and girls and demand the government to address their essential needs, concerns for social protection system and injustices of vulnerable women and girls.

Please be informed about this event and join us in celebrating it through the following activities:

  • On 01 March 2023, we will start posting our daily countdown flyers to alert the date of the open-space celebration of International Women’s Day.
  • From 01 March 2023 to 07 March 2023, we are going to publish seven subsequent videos showing the requests to address 17 demands from different
  • On 02 March 2023, we will host a radio talk show on “The Campaign for International Women’s Day 2023”.
  • On 08 March 2023, we will conduct an open-space event for 500 participants at Freedom Park to commemorate International Women’s Day in 2023”. The theme for this event is “Protecting Women and Girls for Inclusive Justice”

For additional information, please contact:

  1. OU Tephallin Tel. (+855) 11 984 883
  2. YANG Sophorn Tel. (+855) 12 880 039
  3. CHAK Sopheap Tel. (+855) 11 943 213
  4. MEAS Sa Im Tel. (+855) 86 382 666
  5. KHON Tharo Tel. (855) 93 556 671

PDF format:  Download full statement in Khmer Download full statement in English

Joint Statement: Media and Civil Society Groups Deeply Disturbed by Government’s Decision to Revoke VOD’s Media License and the Sexual Harassment of a Female Reporter

We, the undersigned media and civil society organizations, are deeply disturbed by Prime Minister Hun Sen’s order to revoke the license of Voice of Democracy (VOD), one of the last remaining independent media outlets in Cambodia. We also condemn the recent sexual harassment and intimidation of a female VOD journalist.

The closure of VOD and the harassment of a female VOD journalist undermine the government’s own claims regarding respect for the free press in Cambodia and appear to reflect a failure to uphold the 1995 Law on the Press. The decision to revoke VOD’s media license ahead of the July 2023 national elections represents a fresh wave of intimidation tactics against the country’s dwindling independent media that mirrors the 2017 closure of the Cambodia Daily and the 2018 sale of the Phnom Penh Post.

On February 9, VOD published an article in Khmer quoting government spokesperson H.E. Phay Siphan as saying that, “it is not wrong for Hun Manet to play his father’s role in providing aid to Turkey.” H.E. Hun Manet later denied playing that role on his social media, and requested an immediate correction and for VOD to provide evidence of his signature on the document authorizing aid.

On February 11, Prime Minister Hun Sen posted on his Facebook page demanding that VOD issue a public apology to the government and his son within 72 hours, or else he said he would order the Ministry of Information to revoke VOD’s media license. On February 12, Hun Sen made another Facebook post shortening the deadline to 10 a.m., February 13.

Prime Minister Hun Sen’s arbitrary deadline signals a serious threat to all independent media and journalists in Cambodia. Cambodia has existing laws for how to deal with an alleged misquote or factual error in a media report. Article 10 of Cambodia’s Press Law states that people have the right to demand a retraction and reply from a publisher when they believe a statement is false, and a publisher must reply within seven days. There is also a right to sue for defamation and libel.

Prime Minister Hun Sen’s apparent decision to not use this law, and instead revoke the license of VOD, as well as Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith’s subsequent Facebook post declaring it a “lesson” for other media, suggests that the move was made to silence one of the few remaining independent news publications in the country ahead of the national election.

Already, as of the morning of February 13, access to VOD’s websites – both Khmer and English – appears to have been blocked by major internet service providers and mobile service providers within Cambodia.

We call on the government to resolve the issue in a calm, professional and respectful manner that is in line with Cambodian law and that does not do lasting damage to Cambodia’s media landscape. We believe that the closure of VOD would represent a grave step backwards for both press freedoms and the rule of law in Cambodia.

Moreover, we rebuke the abusive and misogynistic language used by Mr. Pheng Vannak and others on social media against the female reporter who authored the VOD article in question. We hope the government, through relevant ministries such as the Ministry of Information and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, will join us in calling for Mr. Vannak and others to apologize to the reporter in question and to stop his blatant acts of sexual harassment directed towards female reporters.

No journalist should ever be attacked as a result of their work or identity.

The role of independent media is indispensable to democracy. The United Nations Human Rights Committee has stressed that a free media is essential to democratic processes and should be allowed to operate without restraint.

We hope the government acknowledges the essential role of VOD and its journalists, along with the remaining independent media outlets in the country, and their right to do their work in accordance with the law and without fear of intimidation and harassment.

This statement is signed by:
1. Cambodian Journalists Alliance Association (CamboJA)
2. Cambodian Female Journalists (CFJ)
3. Overseas Press Club of Cambodia (OPCC)
4. Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO)
5. The Alliance of Independent Journalists/AJI (Indonesia)
6. National Union of Journalists of the Philippines/NUJP (Philippines)
7. The Center for Independent Journalism (Malaysia)
8. Gerakan Media Merdeka/Geramm (Malaysia)
9. Freedom Film Network (Malaysia)
10. Journalist Association Timor Leste/AJTL (Timor Leste)
11. Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan (FCCJ)
12. Taiwan Foreign Correspondents’ Club (TFCC)
13. The International Federation of Journalists (Asia-Pacific)
14. Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC)
15. The Cambodian Youth Network Association (CYN)
16. Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (COMFREL)
17. Labour Right Supported Union Khmer Employee of Nagaworld (L.R.S.U)
18. Cambodian Tourism Workers Union Federation (CTWUF)
19. Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA)
20. Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (CENTRAL)
21. Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions (CATU)
22. Cambodian Informal Economy Workers Association (CIWA)
23. Community Legal Education Center (CLEC)
24. The Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL)
25. Coalition of Cambodian Farmers Community Association (CCFC)
26. Equitable Cambodia (EC)
27. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
28. Cambodian Institute for Democracy
29. Jakarta Foreign Correspondents Club (JFCC)
30. Kanopi hijau, Indonesia
31. MilkTeaAlliance Calendar Team, regional/ transnational
32. International Dialogue (IID)
33. ALTSEAN-Burma, Myanmar
34. Innovation for Change-East Asia, Bangkok, Thailand
35. MilkTeaAlliance Friends of Myanmar, Myanmar
36. Asia Democracy Network (ADN), South Korea
37. DAKILA, Philippines
38. Ruang MES 56, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
39. Gender and Development for Cambodia (GADC)
40. Independent Trade Union Federation (INTUFE)
41. Solidarity House (SH)
42. EngageMedia, Asia-Pacific
43. Cambodia Labor Confederation (CLC)
44. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
45. Cambodian Food and Service Workers’ Federation (CFSWF)
46. Free Independent Trade Union Federation (FUFI)
47. Cambodia’s Independent Civil Servants Association (CICA)
48. Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand, (FCCT) Professional Committee
49. Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP)
50. 197 Land Community (Koh Kong)
51. Andong Trabek Land Community (Svay Rieng)
52. Areng Indigenous Community (Koh Kong)
53. BoeungPramCommunity (Battambang)
54. Bos Snor Community (Tbong Khmum)
55. Charay Indigenous Community (Ratanakkiri)
56. Chi Kha Kraom Land Community (Koh Kong)
57. Chi Kha Leu Land Community (Koh Kong)
58. Community to Protect Nature (Pursat)
59. Dak Por Community (Kampong Speu)
60. Khmer Thavrak
61. Klaing Toek 78 Community (Siem Reap)
62. Koh Sralao Fishery Community (Koh Kong)
63. Kouy Indigenous Community (Preah Vihear)
64. Land Community (Pailin)
65. Lor Peang Community (Kampong Chhnang)
66. Mean Chey Land Community (Svay Rieng)
67. Mother Nature Cambodia (MNC)
68. Ou Vor Preng Community (Battambang)
69. Peam Ros Community (Kampong Speu)
70. Phnom Krom Community (Siem Reap)
71. Phum Sela Khmer Land Community (Banteay Meanchey)
72. Prek Ksach Land Community (Koh Kong)
73. Prey Chher Pech Changvar Laor Chhert Community (Kampong Chhnang)
74. Prey Peay Land Community (Kampot)
75. Samaki Chek Meas Community (Svay Rieng)
76. Samaki Romeas Haek Community (Svay Rieng)
77. Samaki Sangkae Pir Mean Rith (Preah Vihear)
78. Sre Ampel Water Fall Tourism Forestry Community (Kampong Chhnang)
79. Sre Ampel Water Fall Tourism Forestry Community (Kampong Chhnang)
80. Sre Prang Community (Tboung Khmum)
81. Ta Noun Land Community (Koh Kong)
82. Thmar Da Community (Pursat)
83. Tonlung Community (Tboung Khmum)
84. Sahmakum Teang Tnaut Organization -STT
85. Federation of Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia (FTUWKC)
86. NARA-Youth, the Philippines
87. The Cambodian NGO Committee on CEDAW (NGO-CEDAW)
88. Youth Resource Development Program(YRDP)
89. PDP Center
90. Transparency International Cambodia
91. Reporters Without Border (RSF)
92. Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, Africa
93. Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Federation of Cambodia (BWTUC)
94. Women Peace Makers (WPM)
95. Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR)
96. Cambodian Human Rights Action Coalition (CHRAC)

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JOINT STATEMENT: Immediately Release Imprisoned Union Leader Chhim Sithar

28 November 2022

We, the undersigned, call on the Cambodian government to stop being afraid of Chhim Sithar’s strength and bravery. We call for her immediate and unconditional release from prison and an end to the judicial harassment of the union’s leader and members.

Sithar, the recently re-elected president of the Labor Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees of NagaWorld (LRSU), was arrested at immigration at the Phnom Penh airport on Saturday morning, as she was returning from the International Trade Union Confederation World Conference in Australia.

LRSU members have been on strike for nearly a year. The government’s response has been to beat, arrest, sexually harass and assault strikers. This latest arrest is an unacceptable continuation of this failed policy of repression.

Sithar was previously violently arrested in January this year, on baseless charges of incitement over her union’s strike action. She was bailed in March, and arrested on Saturday on the accusation that she violated bail conditions that allegedly prohibited her from leaving the country.

Neither Sithar nor her lawyers were informed of any bail conditions. Her lawyers’ request to view her case file, which would have contained such bail conditions, was never granted, in violation of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Sithar was allowed by Cambodian immigration to leave the country earlier this month.

If authorities expected Sithar to comply with any bail conditions, they should have informed her of them. Punishing people for failing to follow secret and undisclosed rules is an injustice and inconsistent with basic principles of the rule of law.

“An independent, neutral and just court would promote and protect Sithar with the law,” said Khun Tharo, program coordinator at CENTRAL. “The arrest of a prominent labour activist is a serious violation of human and labour rights, as the charge from the court has no legal basis.”

Sithar has been returned to pre-trial detention in Correctional Centre 2, where she is subject to horrendous and extremely overcrowded prison conditions. She faces up to two years in prison if convicted. At least nine other LRSU leaders and members – who were previously imprisoned alongside Sithar earlier this year – also continue to face criminal charges, while new spurious criminal cases are being brought forward against other LRSU strikers.

The government must stop treating Sithar, alongside other LRSU members and union members and leaders across the garment, hospitality, and informal sectors, as if they are enemies of the state. They represent legitimate interests of workers, who are calling on employers and companies to respect the law and their rights. The government should be celebrating them, not imprisoning them.

“We call on the Cambodian government to stop mislabeling and treating the LRSU strike as an illegal protest,” said Kleang Soben, general secretary of LRSU. “It is, and always has been, a legitimate strike by workers objecting to NagaWorld’s violation of Cambodia’s Labour Law.”

We call for the immediate release of Chhim Sithar, and for all charges to be dropped against her and her fellow LRSU leaders and members. The LRSU strike must be resolved in accordance with the Labour Law, and authorities must stop treating unionists as criminals for undertaking their legitimate and selfless work to defend the rights of others.

 

For more information, please contact:

  • Kleang Soben, General Secretary of the Labor Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees of NagaWorld (LRSU), 081 525 461
  • Khun Tharo, Program Coordinator of Center for Alliance of Labour and Human Rights (CENTRAL), 093 556 671

This joint statement is endorsed by:

  1. 197 Land Community (Koh Kong)
  2. Alliance for Conflict Transformation (ACT)
  3. Am Leang Community (Kampong Speu)
  4. Andong Trabek Land Community (Svay Rieng)
  5. Areng Indigenous Community (Koh Kong)
  6. Boeung Pram Community (Battambang)
  7. Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Federation of Cambodia (BWTUC)
  8. Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions (CATU)
  9. Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR)
  10. Cambodian Food and Service Workers’ Federation (CFSWF)
  11. Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (CENTRAL)
  12. Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO)
  13. Cambodian Institute for Democracy (CID)
  14. Cambodia’s Independent Civil Servants Association (CICA)
  15. Cambodian Informal Economy Workers Association (CIWA-CLC)
  16. Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC)
  17. Cambodian Human Rights Action Coalition (CHRAC)
  18. Cambodian Tourism Workers Union Federation (CTWUF)
  19. Chi Kha Kraom Land Community (Koh Kong)
  20. Chi Kha Leu Land Community (Koh Kong)
  21. Coalition of Cambodian Farmers Community Association (CCFC)
  22. Coalition of Free Trade Union of The Women’s Textile (CFTUWT)
  23. Community to Protect Nature (Pursat)
  24. Cambodian Youth Network (CYN)
  25. Dak Por Community (Kampong Speu)
  26. Equitable Cambodia (EC)
  27. Gender and Development for Cambodia (GADC)
  28. Free Independent Trade Union Federation (FUFI)
  29. Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA)
  30. Independent Trade Union Federation (INTUFE)
  31. Indigenous Community in Prame Commune (Preah Vihear)
  32. Khmer Thavrak
  33. Klahaan
  34. Kleang Toek 78 Community (Siem Reap)
  35. Koh Sralao Fishery Community (Koh Kong)
  36. Kouy Indigenous Community (Preah Vihear)
  37. Labour Right Supported Union Khmer Employee of Nagaworld (L.R.S.U)
  38. Land Community (Pailin)
  39. Lor Peang Community (Kampong Chhnang)
  40. Mean Chey Land Community (Svay Rieng)
  41. Ou Damdaek Community (Kampong Thom)
  42. Ou Vor Preng Community (Battambang)
  43. Peam Ros Community (Kampong Speu)
  44. Peace Bridges Organization (PBO)
  45. Phnom Krom Community (Siem Reap)
  46. Phnom Tor Toeung Community (Kampot)
  47. Phum Sela Khmer Land Community (Banteay Meanchey)
  48. Ponlok Khmer (PKH)
  49. Prek Ksach Land Community (Koh Kong)
  50. Prey Chher Pech Changvar Laor Chhert Community (Kampong Chhnang)
  51. Prey Lang Community (Kampong Thom)
  52. Prey Peay Land Community (Kampot)
  53. Rattanak Rokha Forestry Community (Oddar Meanchey)
  54. Reaksmei Sameakki Community (Kampong Speu)
  55. Samaki Romeas Haek Community (Svay Rieng)
  56. Samaki Chek Meas Community (Svay Rieng)
  57. SILAKA
  58. Sahmakum Teang Tnaut (STT)
  59. Sre Ampel Water Fall Tourism Forestry Community (Kampong Chhnang)
  60. Sre Prang Community (Tbong Khmum)
  61. Steung Khsach Sor Forestry Resource (Kampong Chhnang)
  62. Ta Ni Land Community (Siem Reap)
  63. Ta Noun Land Community (Koh Kong)
  64. The Cambodian NGO Committee on CEDAW (NGO-CEDAW)
  65. Thmar Da Community (Pursat)
  66. Tonlung Community (Tbong Khmum)
  67. Trapeang Chour Community (Kampong Speu)
  68. Youth Resources Development Program (YRDP)
  69. Solidarity House (SH)

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Deplorable Use of Violence and Detention of Journalists, Activists at Phnom Tamao

A screenshot of a video posted by Khmer Thavrak on 16 August 2022 showing authorities in plain clothes detain activists from the social justice group, including Hun Vannak (fourth from left), and VOD journalists

19 August 2022 – We, the undersigned press freedom, human rights and civil society groups, condemn the recent violence, arbitrary detention and intimidation of five journalists and four activists by officers from the prime minister’s bodyguard unit (BHQ) in Phnom Tamao forest.

Five journalists from independent news outlet VOD and four activists from social justice group Khmer Thavrak were unjustly detained for about seven hours on 16 August 2022. They were arrested in Phnom Tamao forest on Tuesday morning by BHQ officers and then brought to the Bati district police station in Takeo province.

Authorities told VOD journalists they were not permitted to photograph, film or fly a drone in Phnom Tamao, claiming photos and recordings could be used to spread false information. There is no justification for such a claim, and we reject such arbitrary restrictions on journalists.

We also condemn the authorities’ unconscionable abuse of power and use of physical violence against a journalist and an activist, and call for an impartial investigation into the incident, prosecution of any authorities who acted in violation of the law, and justice for the victims.

A VOD videographer was slapped in the face by a BHQ officer when the journalist refused to hand over the phone he was using to record officers questioning his VOD colleagues.

“I was walking to the pagoda [in Phnom Tamao forest] and was told that VOD reporters were detained. I returned to them and took out my phone intending to film them for documentation. One bodyguard came up to me, told me not to film and wanted to take my phone from me, but I refused. He slapped me in the face and snatched the phone from my hand,” said Hy Chhay, the videographer.

Khmer Thavrak activist Hun Vannak was also hit repeatedly by a BHQ officer while being pushed into the back of a truck during his arrest.

“I refused to get into the [vehicle] and he punched me in the face three times and jumped to kick my head,” Vannak said after his release.

While authorities claimed on 16 August that the nine had entered a prohibited area in Phnom Tamao forest —which earlier this month saw approximately a quarter of its territory cleared of trees — journalists and others in recent weeks were freely able to report on, photograph and film the deforestation, replanting and other developments in the forest. These restrictions were sudden, arbitrary and infringed on press freedom.

In addition, the five journalists and four Khmer Thavrak activists, including Vannak, Sokun Tola, Chhem Sreykea and Chhoeun Daravy, were only released from detention on Tuesday evening after authorities required them to sign a “contract”. The contract stated that the journalists flew a drone without permission from authorities, despite no known existing regulations on using drones in that area. We view this as coercion, harassment and intimidation.

Independent journalists’ right to report news freely in Cambodia must be protected, especially when reporting on matters of the public interest such as the recent massive deforestation of Phnom Tamao forest. Cambodia’s 1995 Press Law prohibits pre-publication censorship like what was exhibited on 16 August, when authorities told journalists they were not allowed to photograph or film in the forest without prior approval, and when officers confiscated their equipment, including phones, cameras and a drone equipped with a camera.

Similarly, individuals and activists have the right to freely document and monitor environmental destruction and rights abuses, and to express their opinions publicly, a right protected by Cambodia’s Constitution and international human rights law.

We stand in solidarity with our colleagues working in the independent news media and as human rights defenders against state violence, arbitrary detention, harassment and intimidation. We call on the Cambodian authorities to uphold the Press Law, Constitution and all national and international laws which ensure the rights of freedom of expression, and of all journalists and human rights defenders to document and publicise actions by the state, and to serve society.

Background

The violence and detentions of five VOD journalists and four activists from Khmer Thavrak on 16 August 2022 came just days after the Phnom Tamao forest underwent massive deforestation, losing around 500 hectares of forest at the roughly 2,000-hectare site in about one week. Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered the forest to be replanted on 7 August, cancelling concessions given by his government to several businessmen, including Leng Navatra and Khun Sea. The reversal came after a series of VOD articles featuring photos and drone footage of the rapid deforestation, other news articles and drone footage of the clearing, and public outrage on social media over the forest’s destruction.

The five VOD journalists detained on Tuesday were following up on their earlier reporting on the forest clearing, including conducting interviews and photographing and filming using a drone.

The Khmer Thavrak activists were detained after one group member was live-streaming on Facebook from Phnom Tamao, and the group had submitted a petition about the forest to the Takeo Provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Authorities had reportedly started marking forest land, drawing questions from local residents and triggering a visit by Khmer Thavrak.

Prime Minister Hun Sen announced late Tuesday that his bodyguard unit was now responsible for removing felled timber, preparing the land and replanting trees in Phnom Tamao, after his government earlier authorised the privatisation and clearing of parts of the forest. Hun Sen also instructed the Ministry of Agriculture to reestablish Phnom Tamao as a protected forest area.

For more information, please contact:

• Ith Sothoeuth, Media Director of Cambodian Center for Independent Media (CCIM), on Signal at (+855) 12 819 545 (English and Khmer)
• Chhoeun Daravy, Social Activist and Member of Khmer Thavrak, on Signal at (+855) 12 209 311 (Khmer)
• Nop Vy, Executive Director of Cambodian Journalists Alliance Association (CamboJA), on Signal at (+855) 12 519 261 (English and Khmer)
• Am Sam Ath, Operations Director of LICADHO, on Signal at (+855) 10 327 770 (Khmer)
• Pilorge Naly, Outreach Director of LICADHO, on Signal at (+855) 12 214 454 (English)
• Daniel Bastard, Asia-Pacific Director at Reporters Without Borders (RSF), dbastard@rsf.org (English)

This joint statement is endorsed by:

1. ActionAid Cambodia
2. Advocacy and Policy Institute (API)
3. Alliance for Conflict Transformation (ACT)
4. Building Community Voices (BCV)
5. Cambodian Association for Protection of Journalists (CAPJ)
6. Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR)
7. Cambodian Center for Independent Media (CCIM)
8. Cambodia Coalition of Farmer Community (CCFC)
9. Cambodian Human Rights Action Coalition (CHRAC)
10. Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC)
11. Cambodian Institute for Democracy (CID)
12. Cambodian Journalists Alliance Association (CamboJA)
13. Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO)
14. Cambodian Youth Network Association (CYN)
15. Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (CENTRAL)
16. Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (COMFREL)
17. Community Legal Education Center (CLEC)
18. Gender and Development for Cambodia (GADC)
19. International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)
20. Overseas Press Club of Cambodia (OPCC)
21. Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
22. Sahmakum Teang Tnaut (STT Cambodia)
23. Transparency International-Cambodia (TIC)
24. Village Support Group (VSG)
25. Youth Resource Development Program (YRDP)
26. 197 Land Community (Koh Kong)
27. Andong Trabek Land Community (Svay Rieng)
28. Chi Kha Kraom Land Community (Koh Kong)
29. Kouy Indigenous Community (Preah Vihear)
30. Indigenous Community in Prame Commune (Preah Vihear)
31. Mean Chey Land Community (Svay Rieng)
32. Phnom Krom Community (Siem Reap)
33. Prey Chher Pech Changvar Laor Chhert Community (Kampong Chhnang)
34. Prey Peay Land Community (Kampot)
35. Samaki Chek Meas Community (Svay Rieng)
36. Samaki Romeas Haek Community (Svay Rieng)
37. Samaki Sangkae Pir Mean Rith (Preah Vihear)
38. Sre Prang Community (Tboung Khmum)
39. Steung Khsach Sor Forestry Resource (Kampong Chhnang)
40. Trapeang Chour Community (Kampong Speu)

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Joint Statement Wanchalearm Satsaksit Remains Missing as UN Body Begins Review of Enforced Disappearances in Cambodia

April 4, 2022 – We, the undersigned organisations, remain deeply concerned about Cambodia’s failure to conduct a thorough, independent, transparent, and effective investigation into the suspected enforced disappearance of Thai activist Wanchalearm Satsaksit and the resulting impunity. As the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED) prepares for a preliminary review of the situation of enforced disappearances in Cambodia on 5 April 2022, we call on the CED to address Cambodia’s persistent failure to conduct a prompt and thorough search for Wanchalearm to determine his fate and whereabouts or to effectively and transparently investigate his disappearance.

We stand in solidarity with Wanchalearm and his family and all victims of enforced disappearance, and call on Cambodia to address apparent failures of the investigating to date, and to immediately disclose any information they may have about his fate and whereabouts, and to ensure truth, justice and reparations for his family”. We agree with the CED that “the very nature of enforced disappearance [is] a continuous crime” which presents grave risks to the rights to life, liberty, security of person, freedom from secret detention and torture, as well as the right to family life. Families of those disappeared have faced incalculable suffering, while being deprived of the right to obtain redress and have closure.

The CED has previously expressed concern over Cambodian authorities’ failure to define and conduct thorough, impartial, and independent searches and investigations into reported enforced disappearances, a pattern that continued with Wanchalearm’s case. In June 2020, Wanchalearm was abducted in broad daylight outside his apartment building while living in exile in Phnom Penh. Wanchalearm is an outspoken critic of the Thai government and the subject of criminal charges in Thailand. His abduction was captured on CCTV footage, which includes images of the vehicle used and its license plate, as well as by eyewitnesses. Wanchalearm’s sister, Sitanan Satsaksit, also overheard part of the abduction as she was on the phone with him at the time. General Chhay Kim Khouen, spokesman of the National Police, and Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, initially dismissed the abduction as “fake news” while another official implied that the government would not investigate the matter because there was no formal complaint.

Authorities later denied Wanchalearm had been in Cambodia at the time despite clear evidence and instead focused on issues irrelevant to determining his fate and whereabouts such as whether he had proper immigration documentation. Amid widespread international condemnation, and only after Sitanan Satsaksit filed a formal complaint with the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on 8 July 2020, Cambodian authorities finally opened a criminal investigation in September 2020. Despite Sitanan giving testimony and evidence to a Phnom Penh court in December 2020 and early 2021, there have been no leads in the investigation. Subsequent appeals for information on his disappearance and the progress of the investigation from Wanchalearm’s family have been met with silence. In Thailand, Thai authorities have twice threatened Sitanan with criminal charges after she spoke at events in September and December 2021 about her brother’s disappearance and the need to enact Thailand’s draft law on the prevention and suppression of torture and enforced disappearances.

Wanchalearm’s disappearance is a chilling reminder of the 2007 cross-border disappearances of two Vietnamese pro-democracy and labour activists from Cambodia. For example, Le Tri Tue, a Vietnamese dissident, disappeared in Phnom Penh in 2007 after applying for asylum and remains missing.

Failure to effectively investigate his abduction calls into question the authorities’ compliance with Cambodia’s obligations under the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED), to which Cambodia became a state party in 2013. Specifically, Cambodia is in violation of its duties under international human rights law to undertake a thorough and impartial investigation without delay, take necessary measures to hold those involved criminally responsible, and guarantee access to information to the families of the victims and those with a legitimate interest. In addition, unconscionable delays in the search for a disappeared person are inconsistent with the Guiding Principles for the search for disappeared persons, including to presume the person is alive, respect human dignity, begin without delay, use information in an appropriate manner, and respect that the search is a continuing obligation until the fate of the disappeared is known.

The CED opened its 22nd session on 28 March and will develop a List of Issues that will form the basis for the review of Cambodia’s first report under Article 29 of the ICPPED. This report was due in 2015 but was not submitted by the Cambodian government until 2021.

This joint statement is endorsed by:
1. Sitanan Satsaksit and Family
2. Affiliated Network for Social Accountability (ANSA), Cambodia
3. Alliance for Conflict Transformation (ACT), Cambodia
4. Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK), Bangladesh
5. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
6. Asian Resource Foundation (ARF), Thailand
7. Association of Women for Awareness & Motivation (AWAM), Pakistan
8. Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), India
9. Bytes for All, Pakistan
10. Cambodia’s Independent Civil Servants Association (CICA)
11. Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR)
12. Cambodian Food and Service Workers’ Federation (CFSWF), Cambodia
13. Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC), Cambodia
14. Cambodian Institute for Democracy (CID), Cambodia
15. Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO), Cambodia
16. Cambodian Youth Network (CYN), Cambodia
17. Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (CENTRAL), Cambodia
18. Center for Human Rights and Development (CHRD), Mongolia
19. Center for Prisoners’ Rights (CPR), Japan
20. Coalition of Cambodian Farmers Community Association (CCFC), Cambodia
21. Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (COMFREL), Cambodia
22. Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), India
23. Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF), Thailand
24. Defence of Human Rights (DHR), Pakistan
25. Dignity-Kadyr-kassiyet (KK), Kazakhstan
26. Equitable Cambodia (EC), Cambodia
27. Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Pakistan
28. Human Rights Lawyers Association (HRLA), Thailand
29. Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA), Cambodia
30. The Indonesian Human Rights Monitor – Inisiatif Masyarakat Partisipatif untuk Transisi Berkeadilan (Imparsial), Indonesia
31. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
32. Korean House for International Solidarity (KHIS), South Korea
33. League for the Defence of Human Rights in Iran (LDDHI), Iran
34. Madaripur Legal Aid Association (MLAA), Bangladesh
35. Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN), Maldives
36. Manushya Foundation, Thailand
37. Odhikar, Bangladesh
38. People’s Empowerment Foundation (PEF), Thailand
39. People’s Watch, India
40. Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity (PACTI), India
41. Progressive Voice, Myanmar
42. Safety and Risk Mitigation Organization (SRMO), Afghanistan
43. Sahmakum Teang Tnaut (STT), Cambodia
44. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM), Malaysia
45. Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), Thailand
46. The Cambodian NGO Committee on CEDAW (NGO-CEDAW), Cambodia
47. Think Centre, Singapore
48. Transparency International Cambodia (TIC)
49. Vietnam Committee on Human Rights (VCHR), Vietnam
50. Youth Resources Development Program (YRDP)

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Joint statement Stop Escalating Crackdown on LRSU Strikers

25 March 2022

Authorities have alarmingly escalated the use of violence and mass detention of union members in front of NagaWorld casino in recent weeks, as well as increasing restrictions placed on human rights monitors and journalists covering the authorities’ worsening crackdown. We, the undersigned civil society groups, urge the government to de-escalate the situation and stop the repeated intimidation of strikers, including driving them to various areas far from the city center and leaving them stranded there late at night.

We are concerned by recent actions from authorities prohibiting human rights monitors and journalists from observing the continued use of violence against peaceful strikers, most of whom are women. On multiple occasions, authorities have barred human rights monitors and journalists from taking photographs or standing near the site of these heavy-handed detentions. Journalists have been threatened with arrest for covering the strike, and in several cases authorities have pushed monitors and journalists away as authorities violently drag strikers onto buses. They have also threatened to detain monitors alongside strikers at Covid-19 quarantine centers.

In some cases, authorities have forced monitors to delete photographs and videos of the incidents – further showing that these abusive arrests are a source of shame, and are not justified under domestic or international law. If observers continue to be restricted, we fear that there may be a further increase in violence and abuse during this crackdown.

In addition, in recent days authorities have put strikers into city buses and driven them to the outskirts of the city, dropping them off and forcing them to arrange and pay for their own transport home. This is entirely arbitrary and serves only to punish workers without any legal justification, reasoning or authority.

Women strikers from LRSU have also been targeted with violence, sexual harassment, imprisonment, and arbitrary application of COVID-19 measures in response to their peaceful strike since December 2021. On 29 December 2021, in an incident captured on video, authorities used vulgar sexual language toward a striker and threatened to sexually assault her. On 22 February, a male officer grabbed and squeezed the breast of one striker as she was being forced onto a bus. On 22 March, a woman striker was hit in the eye by authorities while being detained. These actions are unacceptable.

LRSU has conducted their strike peacefully and within the framework of Cambodian and international law, which guarantees the rights to assembly and free association. Yet the government’s response to the strike has been to arrest 11 union members, activists and leaders on trumped-up charges, which still hang over their heads despite their release on bail. Authorities have also regularly arrested and temporarily detained hundreds of additional LRSU strikers on a near-daily basis, arbitrarily sending them to Covid-19 quarantine centers or, more recently, dropping them off in remote areas of the city.

We call on authorities to de-escalate this situation and to take genuine steps toward resolving the dispute, including ensuring that NagaWorld participates in negotiations in good faith and in alignment with Cambodian law.

 

This joint statement endorsed by:

  1. 197 Land Community (Koh Kong)
  2. Affiliated Network for Social Accountability (ANSA)
  3. Alliance for Conflict Transformation (ACT)
  4. Am Leang Community (Kampong Speu)
  5. Andong Trabek Land Community (Svay Rieng)
  6. Areng Indigenous Community (Koh Kong)
  7. Association of Domestic Workers (ADW)
  8. Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Federation of Cambodia (BWTUC)
  9. Boeung Pram Community (Battambang)
  10. Bos Snor Community (Tbong Khmum)
  11. Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions (CATU)
  12. Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR)
  13. Cambodian Center for Independent Media (CCIM)
  14. Cambodian Food and Service Workers’ Federation (CFSWF)
  15. Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (CENTRAL)
  16. Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC)
  17. Cambodia’s Independent Civil Servants Association (CICA)
  18. Cambodian Informal Economy Workers Association (CIWA-CLC)
  19. Cambodian Labor Confederation (CLC)
  20. Cambodian Tourism Workers Union Federation (CTWUF)
  21. Cambodian Journalists Alliance (CamboJA)
  22. Chi Kha Kraom Land Community (Koh Kong)
  23. Chi Kha Leu Land Community (Koh Kong)
  24. Coalition for Integrity and Social Accountability (CISA)
  25. Coalition of Cambodian Farmers Community Association (CCFC)
  26. Community to Protect Nature (Pursat)
  27. Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (COMFREL)
  28. Cambodian Youth Network (CYN)
  29. Dak Por Community (Kampong Speu)
  30. Equitable Cambodia (EC)
  31. Gender and Development Cambodia (GADC)
  32. Haong Samnam Community (Kampong Speu)
  33. Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA)
  34. Independent Trade Union Federation (INTUFE)
  35. Kamprers community (Tboung Khmum)
  36. Khmer Student Intelligent League Association (KSILA)
  37. Khmer Thavrak
  38. Klaing Toek 78 Community (Siemreap)
  39. Koh Sralao Fishery Community (Koh Kong)
  40. Kouy​ Indigenous​​ Community (Preah Vihear)
  41. Labour Right Supported Union Khmer Employee of Nagaworld (L.R.S.U)
  42. Lor Peang Community (Kampong Chhnang)
  43. Mean Chey Land Community (Svay Rieng)
  44. Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (NICFEC)
  45. Peace Bridges Organization (PBO)
  46. Peam Ros Community (Kampong Speu)
  47. People Center for Development and Peace (PDP)
  48. Phnom Krom Community (Siemreap)
  49. Phnom Tnaut Community (Kampot)
  50. Phum Sela Khmer Land Community (Banteay Meanchey)
  51. Ponlok Khmer (PKH)
  52. Prek Ksach Land Community (Koh Kong)
  53. Prey Chher Pech Changvar Laor Chhert Community (Kampong Chhnang)
  54. Prey Lang Community (Stung Treng)
  55. Prey Lang Community (Kampong Thom)
  56. Prey Peay Fishery Community (Kampot)
  57. Ou Vor Preng Community (Battambang)
  58. Reaksmei Sameakki Community (Kampong Speu)
  59. Samaki Chek Meas Community (Svay Rieng)
  60. Solidarity House (SH)
  61. Sahmakum Teang Tnaut (STT)
  62. Sre Ampel Water Fall Tourism Forestry Community (Kampong Chhnang)
  63. Sre Prang Community (Tboung Khmum)
  64. Steung Khsach Sor Forestry Resource (Kampong Chhnang)
  65. Ta Ni Land Community (Siemreap)
  66. Ta Noun Land Community (Koh Kong)
  67. The Cambodian NGO Committee on CEDAW (NGO-CEDAW)
  68. Thmar Da Community (Pursat)
  69. Tonlung Community (Tboung Khmum)
  70. Transparency International Cambodia (TI)
  71. Trapeang Chour Community (Kampong Speu)
  72. Youth Resources Development Program (YRDP)

Joint Statement: Abolish Slave Compounds in Cambodia

March 10, 2022 – We are deeply disturbed by reports of widespread human trafficking into Cambodia leading to forced labour, slavery and torture at compounds across the country. Dozens of media reports and numerous victim accounts collected by local and international organisations suggest that thousands of people, mostly foreign nationals, are entrapped in these situations. We call on the government to take meaningful and coordinated action to respond to these gross human rights violations, and to investigate alleged complicity between some government authorities and the criminal enterprises.

Media reports and victim accounts indicate these abuses involve foreign citizens who are kidnapped, sold, trafficked or tricked into accepting jobs in Cambodia. Once in Cambodia, they are detained in large compounds and forced to work, often conducting online scam operations targeting foreign nationals outside the country. Workers who escape report having faced physical and mental threats and violence at the hands of their captors. Reports indicate that most compounds are located in Sihanoukville, yet similar abuses have been reported in Phnom Penh, Pursat, Koh Kong and other provinces.

This grave reality has been recognised by numerous foreign embassies. Indonesia issued a warning regarding the situation in January 2021; Vietnam warned its citizens of such operations in June 2021; the Thai government issued a warning in November 2021; the Pakistan Embassy reported rescuing four citizens in January 2022; and the Chinese Embassy has published multiple statements and warnings regarding such operations. Thai police have expressed concern and recently stepped-up efforts to intervene in cases where Thai citizens have been trafficked and become trapped in these compounds.

Local and international journalists have been central to bringing this human rights crisis to light, reporting on the victims, perpetrators, and government institutions involved in these operations. Reports have implicated a well-known Cambodian tycoon and a ruling party senator as being connected to some of the operations.

While some Cambodian authorities have responded to a handful of individual complaints, this crisis cannot be resolved on a case-by-case basis. A coordinated and targeted response is urgently needed from the Cambodian government, local and international organisations, UN bodies, and other governments to respond to the magnitude of this crisis. We urge the Cambodian government to fulfil its responsibility to fully investigate the abuses within its territory; abolish all compounds linked with illegal gambling and fraud operations, and the associated forced labour, slavery or torture; ensure that those entrapped are released and provided with safety; and prosecute all those responsible in accordance with Cambodian law.

The continued existence of these operations is a tragedy, and we are horrified that Cambodia is being used as a base for such inhumanity. All relevant actors must immediately guarantee that no one is subject to slavery or torture within Cambodia.

This statement endorsed by:

1. Alliance for Conflict Transformation (ACT)
2. Association of Domestic Workers (ADW)
3. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
4. Bytes for All, Pakistan
5. Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR)
6. Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC)
7. Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO)
8. Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (CENTRAL)
9. Centre for Human Rights and Development, Mongolia
10. Coalition of Cambodian Farmers Community Association (CCFC)
11. Cambodian Food and Service Workers’ Federation (CFSWF)
12. Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (COMFREL)
13. Cambodian Center for Independent Media (CCIM)
14. Cambodian Institute for Democracy (CID)
15. Cambodian Youth Network (CYN)
16. Defense of Human Rights & Public Service Trust, Pakistan
17. Equitable Cambodia (EC)
18. Gender and Development for Cambodia (GADC)
19. Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA)
20. Initiativ Kambodja (IK)
21. International Justice Mission (IJM)
22. M’Lop Tapang
23. Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (NICFEC)
24. Odhikar, Bangladesh
25. Peace Bridges Organization (PBO)
26. People Center for Development and Peace (PDP-Center)
27. People’s Empowerment Foundation, Thailand
28. Sahmakum Teang Tnaut – (STT)
29. Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC), Pakistan
30. Transparency International Cambodia (TI)
31. The Cambodian NGO Committee on CEDAW (NGO-CEDAW)
32. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM), Malaysia
33. Women’s Rehabilitation Centre (WOREC), Nepal
34. Think Centre, Singapore
35. Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), India
36. Progressive Voice, Myanmar

For more information, please contact:
▪ Mr. Am Sam Ath, Operations Director LICADHO – (+855) 10 327 770 (Khmer)
▪ Mr. Jake Sims, Country Director IJM – (+855) 12901446 (English)

PDF format: Download full statement in KhmerDownload full statement in English

JOINT STATEMENT Authorities Must Immediately Stop Using Violence and Arbitrary Application of Laws Against Peaceful Women Strikers

February 24, 2022 – We, the undersigned civil society groups, communities and trade unions, are dismayed by recent incidents of state-sponsored violence, including sexual harassment, against Cambodian women engaged in peaceful strikes and assemblies. Members of the Labor Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees of NagaWorld (LRSU) – most of whom are women – have been subjected to violence, imprisonment, and arbitrary application of COVID-19 measures in response to their peaceful strike since December 2021.

Authorities have repeatedly pushed, dragged and carried peaceful strikers onto buses to take them to a COVID-19 quarantine centre in Prek Phnov district, Phnom Penh this week. On 22 February 2022, a male officer grabbed and squeezed the breast of one woman as she was being forced onto a bus. Similarly, on 29 December 2021, state authorities used vulgar sexual language toward a striker and threatened to sexually assault her.

Women strikers have been repeatedly and disproportionately targeted by government efforts to disperse the peaceful strike. During January, strikers were arbitarily denied access to bathrooms nearby the strike site, which were reopened daily as strikers returned home. Authorities have prevented strikers from returning home until after dark on multiple occasions, and at times followed them when they have been permitted to leave.

This month, strikers have repeatedly complied with orders to undertake multiple COVID-19 tests and fulfiled quarantine orders. Despite meeting such demands, on 21 February 2022, 64 strikers – 56 women and eight men – were forcibly taken to a quarantine facility as they attempted to resume their strike and were only permitted to return home late in the evening after complying with further COVID-19 testing. The next day, 39 strikers – 31 women and eight men – were forcibly taken to the same quarantine centre. Strikers reported that the facility does not have adequate access to water for bathing or drinking or adequate sleeping areas. The following afternoon, 51 additional strikers – 41 women and 10 men – were sent to the same quarantine centre. They have each been fined up to 2 million riel (US$500) for allegedly violating COVID-19 measures as they attempted to resume their strike. Strikers detained since Tuesday have not been released from the quarantine centre.

Meanwhile, 11 LRSU members and leaders, including seven women, have been arrested since December 2021, in retaliation for their peaceful and legitimate exercise of freedom of assembly and freedom of association. They are currently in pre-trial detention. The seven women have been charged with incitement to commit a felony under Cambodia’s Criminal Code and face up to two years in overcrowded prisons if convicted.

State-sanctioned violence against women, arbitrary enforcement of COVID-19 mitigation measures, and the use of the judiciary to stifle public participation are unjustified and unlawful under both international and domestic law. In particular, they violate the constitutional right to peaceful assembly and rights under the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) as interpreted in the CEDAW General Recommendations Nos. 30 (regarding women in conflict, “including protracted and low-intensity civil strife, political strife”) and 35 (regarding gender-based violence).

Women’s rights violations continue to be rampant in Cambodia, with many women reporting feeling less free than men to exercise their fundamental rights, including their rights to speech and assembly. The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a particularly heavy toll on women in Cambodia: many have suffered its economic impacts since the most affected industries, including entertainment, garment, and hospitality, employ a larger share of women than other sectors. In these challenging times, women need increased guarantees to exercise their rights and support, and civil society cannot remain silent in the face of the violence committed against them, all the more when such abuses are committed by the very authorities whose mission is to protect them.

We remind the RGC of its commitments to CEDAW and the Committee’s recommendation in paragraph 9 from November 2019 to fully guarantee the rights of women human rights defenders, trade union leaders, land and environmental activists and members of the political opposition party, particularly their rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association, without harassment, surveillance or other undue restrictions. We strongly urge the government to adopt standards on gender-responsive policing and to mandate gender trainings for police, military, and other security acting on behalf of the state so that they conduct themselves in a professional, ethical, and gender-responsive and sensitive manner whenever they interact with members of the public. We call for all women to be free to resume their peaceful strikes and exercise their fundamental rights without discrimination, and for all imprisoned unionists to be immediately and unconditionally released with all charges dropped.

This joint statement endorsed by:
1. ActionAid Cambodia (AAC)
2. Association to Support Vulnerable Women (ASVW)
3. Banteay Srei (BS)
4. Building Community Voices (BCV)
5. Cambodia Labor Confederation (CLC)
6. Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR)
7. Cambodian Center for Independent Media (CCIM)
8. Cambodian Food and Service Workers’ Federation (CFSWF)
9. Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC)
10. Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO)
11. Cambodian Youth Network (CYN)
12. Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center (CWCC)
13. Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (CENTRAL)
14. Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Community (CCFC)
15. Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (COMFREL)
16. Gender and Development for Cambodia (GADC)
17. Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA)
18. Independent Trade Union Federation (INTUFE)
19. Klahaan Organization (Klahaan)
20. Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (NICFEC)
21. Sahmakum Teang Tnaut (STT)
22. The Cambodian NGO Committee on CEDAW (NGO-CEDAW)
23. Urban Poor Women Development (UPWD)
24. Women Peace Makers (WPM)
25. Youth Resource Development Program (YRDP) Cambodia
26. 197 Land Community (Koh Kong)
27. Am Leang Community (Kampong Speu)
28. Andong Trabek Land Community (Svay Rieng)
29. Areng Indigenous Community (Koh Kong)
30. Boeung Pram Community (Battambang)
31. Bos Snor Community (Tbong Khmum)
32. Chi Kha Leu Land Community (Koh Kong)
33. Community to Protect Nature (Pursat)
34. Dak Por Community (Kampong Speu)
35. Gender and Development network (GADNet)
36. Kompres Community (Tboung Khmum)
37. Klaing Teuk 78 Community (Siem Reap)
38. Kouy Indigenous Community (Preah Vihear)
39. Land Community (Pailin)
40. Ou Vor Preng Community (Battambang)
41. Peam Ros Community (Kampong Speu)
42. Phum Sela Khmer Land Community (Banteay Meanchey)
43. Prey Lang Community (Kampong Thom)
44. Prey Peay Land Community (Kampot)
45. Reaksmei Sameakki Community (Kampong Speu)
46. Sre Ampel Water Fall Tourism Forestry Community (Kampong Chhnang)
47. Sre Prang Community (Tboung Khmum)
48. Ta Noun Land Community (Koh Kong)
49. Thmar Da Community (Pursat)
50. Tonlung Community (Tboung Khmum)
51. Trapeang Pring Community (Tboung Khmum)

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Joint Statement Release and drop the charges against Mr. Chhorn Phalla, a forest activist in Rattanakiri Province

Phnom Penh, 10 February 2022 – We,​ the undersigned civil society groups, trade unions and communities are extremely disappointed and concerned over the conviction of Mr. Chhorn Phalla, who was sentenced to five years imprisonment by the Rattanakiri Provincial Court on 10 November 2021 after a hearing on 29 September 2021. During that hearing the prosecutor changed the charge against Chhorn Phalla from “fell trees, encroached and cleared forest land, set forest fire, and bulldozed forestlands to claim ownership” under Article 62 of the Law on Natural Protected Areas to “clear forestland and enclose it to claim for ownership” under Article 97 (6) of the Law on Forestry, without substantial evidence to support this change. The change of the charges violated Chhorn Phalla’s fair trial rights, as it affected his right to have adequate time to prepare his defense. The court nevertheless convicted Chhorn Phalla under the new charges and sentenced him to five years imprisonment. During the trial, witnesses stated that Chhorn Phalla did not clear forestland and enclosed it to claim for ownership. Chhorn Phalla himself confirmed that he does not own any piece of land in that area.

Chhorn Phalla has been active in the protection of forests and natural resources in Seda commune, Lumphat district, Rattanakiri province for more than ten years. Along with other activists, he monitors forest and natural resources destruction, collects information and documents evidence of this destruction to file lawsuits against competent authorities who fail to perform their duties in protecting natural resources and forest land, thus allowing perpetrators to destroy the forest and natural resources in violation of the Law on Forestry and the Law on Natural Protected Areas. Due to his activism, Chhorn Phalla was attacked on 8 July 2020 by a group of people close to the authorities, after he raised the issue of deforestation and destruction of natural resources during a forum organized by the authorities in Seda commune hall, Lumphat district, Rattanakiri province. After the attack, Chhorn Phalla filed a complaint to the Rattanakiri Provincial Court. However, no action has been taken against the suspects.

Chhorn Phalla has been detained in Rattanakiri provincial prison for more than four months since his arrest on 20 September 2021  while he was checking the voters’ list at the police station in Seda commune, Lumphat district, Rattanakiri province. The Rattanakiri Provincial Court’s unfair decision against Chhorn Phalla amounts to judicial harassment and aims to threaten, intimidate and frighten him, as well as other environmental activists who are actively involved in protecting forests and natural resources.

We urge the judiciary and relevant institutions to drop the charges against Chhorn Phalla and to release him unconditionally. We hope the government will remember its obligation to preserve and protect the environment and the natural resources of Cambodia, and to guarantee the rights and freedoms of individuals to take part in the life of the nation.

This statement is endorsed by:

  1. Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO)
  2. Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR)
  3. Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC)
  4. Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (COMFREL)
  5. Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (CENTRAL)
  6. Alliance for Conflict Transformation (ACT)
  7. Coalition of Cambodian Farmers Community (CCFC)
  8. Youth Resources Development Program (YRDP)
  9. Peace Bridges Organization (PBO)
  10. Cambodian Institute for Democracy (CID)
  11. People Center for Development and Peace (PDP Center)
  12. Coalition for Integrity and Social Accountability (CISA)
  13. Cambodia’s Independent Civil Servants Association (CICA)
  14. Cambodian Youth Network (CYN)
  15. Sahmakum Teang Tnaut (STT)
  16. Affiliated Network for Social Accountability (ANSA)
  17. Boeung Pram Community (Battambang)
  18. O’Vor Preng Community (Battambang)
  19. Pailin Land Community
  20. Chakrei Land Community (Banteay Meanchey)
  21. Phum Sela Khmer Land Community (Banteay Meanchey)
  22. Community to Protect Nature (Pursat)
  23. Thmar Da Community (Pursat)
  24. O’Chamsrey Tradakpong Community (Kampong Thom)
  25. Kouy Indigenous Community (Preah Vihear)
  26. Peam Ros Community (Kampong Speu)
  27. Prey Peay Community (Kampot)
  28. Samaki Sangkae Pi Meanrith Community (Preah Vihear)
  29. Prey Lang Community (Stung Treng)
  30. 197 Land Community (Koh Kong)
  31. Areng Indigenous Community (Koh Kong)
  32. Chi Kha Kraom Land Community (Koh Kong)
  33. Koh Sralao Fishery Community (Koh Kong)
  34. Chi Kha Leu Land Community (Koh Kong)
  35. Ta Noun Land Community (Koh Kong)
  36. Bos Snor Community (Tboung Khmum)
  37. Sre Prang Community (Tboung Khmum)
  38. Tunlung Community (Tboung Khmum)
  39. Sre Ampel Water Fall Tourism Forest Community (Kampong Chhnang)
  40. Steung Khsach Sor Forestry Resource (Kampong Chhnang)
  41. Charay Indigenous Community (Rattanakiri)
  42. Am Laeng Community (Kampong Speu)
  43. Building and Wood Worker’s Trade Union Federation of Cambodia (BWTUC)
  44. Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions (CATU)
  45. Independent Trade Union Federation (INTUFE)
  46. Cambodian Tourism Workers Union Federation (CTWUF)
  47. Khlaeng Teok 78 Community (Siem Reap)
  48. Tany Land Community (Siem Reap)
  49. Andong Trabek Land Community (Svay Rieng)
  50. Samaki Chek Meas Community (Svay Rieng)
  51. Mean Chey Community (Svay Rieng)
  52. Prey Lang Community (Kampong Thom)
  53. Raksmei Samaki Community (Kampong Speu)
  54. Human Right Defender Network (Kratie)
  55. Broma Roub Roum Community (Kratie)
  56. Sambok Community (Kratie)
  57. Tamao Community (Kratie)
  58. Da Community (Kratie)
  59. Chang Krang Community (Kratie)
  60. Kantout Community (Kratie)
  61. Saob Community (Kratie)
  62. Kra-nhung Senchey Community (Kratie)
  63. Kbal Damrei Community (Kratie)
  64. Prek Saman Community (Kratie)
  65. Human Right Defender Network (Tboung Khmum)
  66. Praphat Community (Tboung Khmum)
  67. Bey Met Community (Tboung Khmum)
  68. Chaom Kravean Community (Tboung Khmum)
  69. Trapaeng Pring Community (Tboung Khmum)
  70. Chan Moul Community (Tboung Khmum)
  71. Kambrers Community (Tboung Khmum)
  72. Indigenous Community Network Working Group (Mundulkiri)
  73. Tbaeng Commune Land Community (Siem Reap)
  74. Khnar Sanday Commune Land Community (Siem Reap)
  75. Paek Sneng Commune Land Community (Siem Reap)
  76. Leang Dai Commune Land Community (Siem Reap)
  77. Svay Leur Community (Siem Reap)
  78. Ta Siem Community (Siem Reap)
  79. Beong Meala Community (Siem Reap)
  80. Samrong Community (Siem Reap)
  81. Sre Noy Community (Siem Reap)
  82. Spean Thnaot Community (Siem Reap)
  83. Chan Sar Community (Siem Reap)
  84. Ta Yaek Community (Siem Reap)
  85. Romney Commune Community (Preah Vihear)
  86. Romtom Commune Community (Preah Vihear)
  87. Mlou Prey 1 Commune Community (Preah Vihear)
  88. Mlou Prey 2 Commune Community (Preah Vihear)
  89. Sa-ang Commune Community (Preah Vihear)
  90. Tarsou Commune Community (Preah Vihear)
  91. Sangkae 1 Commune Community (Preah Vihear)
  92. Reaksa Commune Community (Preah Vihear)
  93. Chaep 1 Commune Community (Preah Vihear)
  94. Tbaeng 1 Commune Community (Preah Vihear)
  95. Tbaeng 2 Commune Community (Preah Vihear)
  96. Chamroeun Commune Community (Preah Vihear)
  97. Sra Yorng Commune Community (Preah Vihear)
  98. Thmea Commune Community (Preah Vihear)
  99. Por Commune Community (Preah Vihear)
  100. Puttrea Commune Community (Preah Vihear)
  101. Ro Ang Commune Community (Preah Vihear)
  102. Human Right Defender Network (Steong Treng)
  103. Bos Sbov Commune Community (Banteay Meanchy)
  104. Poychar Community (Banteay Meanchey)
  105. Pich Changva Community (Kampong Chhnang)
  106. Anchanh Rong Community (Kampong Chhnang)
  107. Choam Sangkea Community (Kampong Speu)
  108. Phnom Chi Community (Banteay Meanchey)
  109. Kbal Tuek Commune Community (Kampong Chhnang)
  110. Boeng Bram Community ( Battambang )
  111. DonTri Community ( Battambang )
  112. Sdey Krom Rohal Soung Community ( Battambang )
  113. Cambodian Human Rights Action Coalition ( CHRAC )

Open letter from civil society organizations Request for NagaWorld Labor Dispute Resolution and Release and Dismissal Charges against 8 union leaders and activists

 មើលឯកសារនេះជាភាសាខ្មែរ (PDF, 329.37 KBs) មើលឯកសារនេះជាភាសាអង់គ្លេស (PDF, 636.27 KBs)
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We, the undersigned civil society organizations working on the promotion and protection of human rights labor rights, land rights , environmental activists, independent analyst and social researcher in the Kingdom of Cambodia, wish to inform His Excellency of our deep disappointment at the authorities’ abuse of the Cambodian legal framework to wrongly arrest, detain and charge eight union leaders and continues to arrest more union activists for their peaceful exercise of freedom of association and freedom of assembly, both of which are protected in domestic and international law.

The charge of incitement to commit a felony levied against the union leaders and activists sends the message to Naga World strikers that their labor rights can be flouted with impunity while they will face legal action merely for calling out their company’s labor violations and seeking redress. This could set a dangerous precedent, emboldening employers to ignore inconvenient labor standards, and potentially leading to a roll-back of hard-earned labor rights in Cambodia.

We call for the eight arrested union leaders and activists to be immediately released, and for the charges against them to be unconditionally dropped. We remind the Royal Government of Cambodia (“RGC”) that unionism is not a crime, and that fundamental freedoms must be safeguarded, even when they are exercised in pursuit of a cause that the RGC disagrees with. We further call on the RGC to urge Naga World, once the eight union leaders and activists have been released, to enter into genuine negotiations with the Naga World union with the aim of finding a fair and just resolution to their labor dispute.

In addition, the RGC must cease to accuse trade unions and civil society organizations of attempting to overthrow the Government via a “color revolution” every time they use the fundamental freedoms granted to them by the Cambodian Constitution and international human rights instruments ratified by Cambodia to voice their concerns and demand better respect for human rights. It is high time for the RGC to start appreciating the role that civil society plays in protecting human rights and promoting democracy in the Kingdom and to enable a safe environment for its members to operate freely and without fear of repercussion.

Therefore, we, the undersigned civil society organizations working on the promotion and protection of human rights and labor rights in Cambodia, request His Excellency to intervene in order to have the eight jailed union leaders and activists released and all charges against them dropped and to find a just and fair resolution to this labor dispute.

This open letter is signed by:
1. Hun Vannak (Khmer Thavrak)
2. Chhoeun Daravy (Khmer Thavrak)
3. Eng Malai(Khmer Thavrak)
4. Eng Vandy (Khmer Thavrak)
5. Svay Samnang (Khmer Thavrak)
6. Dr. Lao Mong Hay
7. Dr. Seng Sary
8. 197 Land Community (Koh Kong)
9. ActionAid Cambodia (AAC)
10. Andong Trabek Land Community (Svay Rieng)
11. Areng Indigenous Community (Koh Kong)
12. Bos Snor Community (Tbong Khmum)
13. Boeung Pram Community (Battambang)
14. Building and Wood Workers’ Trade Union Federation of Cambodia (BWTUC)
15. Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions (CATU)
16. Cambodian Food and Service Workers’ Federation (CFSWF)
17. Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC)
18. Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR)
19. Cambodian Institute for Democracy (CID)
20. Cambodian Informal Employment Reinforcement Association (CIERA)
21. Cambodia’s Independent Civil Servants Association (CICA)
22. Cambodian Informal Economy Workers Association (CIWA-CLC)
23. Cambodian Human Rights Action Coalition (CHRAC)
24. Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO)
25. Cambodian Tourism Workers Union Federation (CTWUF)
26. Cambodian Youth Network (CYN)
27. Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (CENTRAL)
28. Chi Kha Kraom Land Community (Koh Kong)
29. Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU)
30. Cambodia Labor Confederation (CLC)
31. Coalition of Cambodian Farmers Community Association (CCFC)
32. Coalition of Free Trade Unions of Women Textile (CFTUWT)
33. Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (COMFREL)
34. Community Legal Education Center (CLEC)
35. Community to Protect Nature (Pursat)
36. Dak Por Community (Kampong Speu)
37. Equitable Cambodia (EC)
38. Federation of Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia (FTUWKC)
39. Free and Independent Trade Union Federation (FUFI)
40. Gender and Development for Cambodia (GADC)
41. Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA)
42. Independent Trade Union Federation (INTUFE)
43. Indigenous Community in Prame Commune (Preah Vihear)
44. Khmer Kampuchea Krom for Human Rights and Development Association (KKKHRDA)
45. Kleang Toek 78 Community (Siemreap)
46. Koh Sralao Fishery Community (Koh Kong)
47. Kouy Indigenous Community (Preah Vihear)
48. Labour Right Supported Union Khmer Employee of Nagaworld (L.R.S.U)
49. Land Community (Pailin)
50. Mean Chey Land Community (Svay Rieng)
51. Ou Chamsrey Tradakpong Community (Kampong Thom)
52. Ou Vor Preng Community (Battambang)
53. Peam Ros Community (Kampong Speu)
54. Phum Sela Khmer Land Community (Banteay Meanchey)
55. Phnom Krom Community (Siemreap)
56. Prek Ksach Land Community (Koh Kong)
57. Prey Lang Community (Kampong Thom)
58. Prey Peay Fishery Community (Kampot)
59. Prey Chher Pech Changvar Laor Chhert Community (Kampong Chhnang)
60. Reaksmei Sameakki Community (Kampong Speu)
61. Sahmakum Teang Tnaut (STT)
62. Samaki Chek Meas Community (Svay Rieng)
63. Samaki Romeas Haek Community (Svay Rieng)
64. Samaki Sangkae Pir Mean Rith (Preah Vihear)
65. Solidarity House (SH)
66. Sre Ampel Water Fall Tourism Forestry Community (Kampong Chhnang)
67. Sre Prang Community (Tboung Khmum)
68. Steung Khsach Sor Forestry Resource (Kampong Chhnang)
69. Ta Noun Land Community (Koh Kong)
70. The Cambodia Confederation of Unions (CCU)
71. The Cambodian NGO Committee on CEDAW (NGO-CEDAW)
72. Thmar Da Community (Pursat)
73. Tonlung Community (Tboung Khmum)
74. Transparency International Cambodia (TI)
75. Workers’ Solidarity Strength Independent Union (WSSIU)
76. Youth Resources Development Program (YRDP)
77. Chongkom 1 community (Tboung Khmum)
78. Khnorng Kroper Lech community (Tboung Khmum)
79. Grassroots Farmer Community (Tboung Khmum)
80. Yerng Knhom Community (Tboung Khmum)
81. Chongkom Kandal community (Tboung Khmum)
82. Kompres community (Tboung Khmum)
83. Trapeang Pring Community (Tboung Khmum)
84. Brolos Community (Tboung Khmum)
85. Broma Robrom Community (Kratie)
86. Sombok Community (Kratie)
87. Women network for Trapeanng Pring community (Tboung Khmum)
88. Romeas Haek Rural Women Network (Svay Rieng)
89. Women Network for Meanchey Community (Svay Rieng)
90. Dak Por Women Community (Takeo)
91. Chok Chey Women Community (Takeo)
92. Women United for Spean Ches Community (Preah Sihanouk)
93. 843 Women Movement Alliance (Koh Kong)
94. Rural Youth Farmer Alliance (Koh Kong)
95. Preah Vihear Youth Farmer Group (Preah Vihear)
96. Tambae Meanchey Youth Network (Tboung Khmum)
97. Kampong Ampil Conservation Forest Community (Svay Rieng)
98. Sithprosre Community (Prey Veng)
99. Chong Ampil Land Community (Prey Veng)
100. Seang Kveang Community (Prey Veng)
101. Chrey Lerng Farmer Community (Prey Veng)
102. Phom Khnom Community (Kandal)
103. Thmar Thom Andoung Tuek Praek Trabek Community (Preah Sihanouk)
104. Ou Kampuchea Community (Preah Sihanouk)
105. Kbal Hong Tuek Communtiy (Preah Sihanouk)
106. Praek Traeng Community (Preah Sihanouk)
107. Pongrouk Community (Kampot)
108. Veal Veng Community (Kampot)
109. Ang Svay Farmer Community (Kampot)
110. Rural Farmer 129 Land Community (Koh Kong)
111. 843 Land Community (Koh Kong)
112. 766 Land Community (Koh Kong)
113. Nea Pisey Rural Land Community (Koh Kong)
114. Chambak Trang Farmer Community (Kampong Speu)
115. Odom Sre Kpos forest land community (Kompong Speu)
116. Human right promotion land community (Kandal)
117. Trey Sla community (Kandal)
118. Totol community (Kandal)
119. Ompov Prey community (Kandal)
120. Kotarear Community (Takeo)
121. Samaki community (Takeo)
122. Phum Kandal Community (Takeo)
123. Trapeang Krasang Community (Takeo)
124. Kanlaeng Khla Community (Takeo)
125. Sambo Community (Preah Vihear)
126. Russei Srok Community (Preah Vihear)
127. Chouk Chey Community (Preah Vihear)
128. Kalorth Community (Preah Vihear)
129. Ou Romdoul Land Community (Preah Vihear)
130. Phnom Ke Samaki Community (Preah Vihear)
131. Bos Community (Preah Vihear)
132. Tasou Meanrith Community (Preah Vihear)
133. Trapeang Rolous Community (Prey Veng)

 

Joint Statement Government Must Release NagaWorld Unionists and Respect Labour Rights

4th January 2022

We the undersigned civil society groups, including union federations, confederations, and associations as well as NGOs, are dismayed by the measures taken by authorities, led by the Phnom Penh Police Commissariat, to detain 9 union leaders and members on the night of December 31, 2021, and to further violently arrest LRSU union leader Chhim Sithar on the afternoon of January 4, 2022. We call for all arrested unionists’ immediate and unconditional release.

We support the exercise of the fundamental rights and freedoms of LRSU union members and employees to conduct a peaceful strike. This right is guaranteed under the Constitution, Labour Law, Law on Trade Unions, and based on the union’s statutes registered with the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training as a professional and independent institution to protect the legal rights and interests of workers in the workplace. We are dismayed by the measures taken by authorities, who failed to uphold their roles and obligations to protect strikers who conduct a peaceful strike. Instead, the authorities arrested the union leaders and members, even at night, and improperly accused them of a crime.

We further note that most of those arrested, as well as those participating in the strike are women. Cambodian law, including the CEDAW Convention, entitles these workers to the peaceful exercise of speech, association, and union activity. Women workers make their own decisions about whether to stand up for their labor rights, and to suggest that they are not acting of their own volition is to deny the full agency and equality of women workers.

nowThe members of the NagaWorld union have used their right to strike, which is guaranteed under national law, as a measure of last resort to push their employer to negotiate and find a solution peacefully. A peaceful strike is not a crime. Authorities must stop intimidating and threatening union members with legal charges or with pro-government media propaganda.

Among the nine unionists detained on December 31, eight – Chhim Sokun, Sun Sreypich, Hai Sopheap, Ry Sovanndy, Rin Phalla, Eng Sreybo, Sun Sreymom, and Kleang Sobin – were arrested at the union office, while Touch Sereymeas was arrested while leaving the strike site in front of NagaWorld. The arrests of the nine were made after 2,000 members of the Labor Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees of NagaWorld (LRSU) union conducted a peaceful strike for 13 days in order to demand NagaWorld re-instate 365 union leaders and members who were previously fired.

One day after the arrest, on January 1, 2022, the Phnom Penh Police Commissariat claimed that the arrests were made after the Phnom Penh Municipality announced many times that the strike was illegal and affected social security and public order. They claimed the arrests were made following Articles 494 and 495 of the Criminal Code.

After questioning, six union members and leaders – Chhim Sokhun, Kleang Sobin, Son Sreypich, Ry Sovanndy, Hai Sopheap, and Touch Sereymeas – were sent to Phnom Penh Municipal Court at around 5 p.m. on Sunday, January 2.

On the afternoon of Monday, January 3rd, the six were charged with incitement to commit a felony by prosecutor Seng Heang, according to Articles 494 and 495 of the Criminal Code, and three others were also charged – Chhim Sithar, Sok Narith and Sok Kongkea. The six detainees were sent to pre-trial detention at Correctional Centre 2 on Monday evening, while the additional three unionists were arrested on January 4, 2022. If convicted, these nine unionists face between six months and two years in prison.

On Monday afternoon, while the six leaders and members were being questioned, 400 members of the union continued to strike in front of Naga 2, and an additional 17 members were arrested (1 man and 16 women) and sent to the Phnom Penh Police Commissariat. One of the 17 detainees, a 3-month pregnant woman, was later released.

We, the civil society groups, call for authorities to drop all charges, release all detainees, and uphold their role as public servants professionally, with accountability and impartiality, in order to find a solution to this labour dispute. At the same time, we request Phnom Penh Municipal Court to rescind the provisional disposition which declared this strike as illegal, dated 16 December 2021.

Endorsed by:

  1. 197 Land Community (Koh Kong)
  2. Am Leang Community (Kampong Speu)
  3. Andong Trabek Land Community (Svay Rieng)
  4. Areng Indigenous Community​ (Koh Kong)
  5. Boeung Pram Community (Battambang)
  6. Building and Wood Workers’ Trade Union Federation of Cambodia (BWTUC)
  7. Cambodia Informal Workers’ Association (CIWA)
  8. Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions (CATU)
  9. Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR)
  10. Cambodian Food and Service Workers’ Federation (CFSWF)
  11. Cambodian Human Rights Action Coalition (CHRAC)
  12. Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC)
  13. Cambodian Independent Civil Servants’ Association (CICA)
  14. Cambodian Informal Employment Reinforcement Association (CIERA)
  15. Cambodian Institute for Democracy (CID)
  16. Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO)
  17. Cambodian Tourism Workers’ Union Federation (CTWUF)
  18. Cambodian Youth Network (CYN)
  19. Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (CENTRAL)
  20. Charay Indigenous Community (Ratanakiri)
  21. Chi Kha Leu Land Community (Koh Kong)
  22. Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (CCAWDU)
  23. Coalition of Cambodian Farmers Community Association (CCFC)
  24. Coalition of Free Trade Unions of Women Textile (CFTUWT)
  25. Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (COMFREL)
  26. Community to Protect Nature (Pursat)
  27. Dak Por Community (Kampong Speu)
  28. Equitable Cambodia (EC)
  29. Federation of Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia (FTUWKC)
  30. Free and Independent Trade Union Federation (FUFI)
  31. Independent Democratic of Informal Economy Association (IDEA)
  32. Independent Trade Union Federation (INTUFE)
  33. Indigenous Community in Prame Commune (Preah Vihear)
  34. Khmer Kampuchea Krom for Human Rights and Development Association (KKKHRDA)
  35. Klaing Toek 78 Community (Siem Reap)
  36. Koh Sralao Fishery Community (Koh Kong)
  37. Kouy​ Indigenous​​ Community (Preah Vihear)
  38. Land Community (Pailin)
  39. Ou Damdaek Community (Kampong Thom)
  40. Peace Bridges Organization (PBO)
  41. Phnom Kroam Community (Siem Reap)
  42. Phnom Tnaut Community (Kampot)
  43. Phum Sela Khmer Land Community (Banteay Meanchey)
  44. Prey Chher Pech Changvar Laor Chhert Community (Kampong Chhnang)
  45. Prey Lang Community (Kampong Thom)
  46. Prey Peay Fishery Community (Kampot)
  47. Samaki Chek Meas Community (Svay Rieng)
  48. Samakum Teang Tnaut (STT)
  49. Solidarity House (SH)
  50. Sre Ampel Water Fall Tourism Forestry Community (Kampong Chhnang)
  51. Sre Prang Community (Tboung Khmum)
  52. Steung Khsach Sor Forestry Resource (Kampong Chhnang)
  53. Ta Ni Land Community (Siemreap)
  54. The Cambodia Confederation of Unions (CCU)
  55. Tonlung Community (Tboung Khmum)
  56. Transparency International (TI)
  57. Workers’ Solidarity Strength Independent Union (WSSIU)
  58. Youth Resource Development Program (YRDP)
  59. Klahaan
  60. Gender and Development for Cambodia (GADC)
  61. The Cambodian NGO Committee on CEDAW (NGO-CEDAW)
  62. Chongkom 1 community (Tbong Khmum)
  63. Knorng Kroper Lech community (Tbong Khmum)
  64. Grassroots farmer community (Tbong Khmum)
  65. Yerng Knhom community (Tbong Khmum)
  66. Chongkom Kandal community (Tbong Khmum)
  67. Kompres community (Tbong Khmum)
  68. Tropiang Pring community (Tbong Khmum)
  69. Brolos community (Tbong Khmum)
  70. Broma Robrom community (Kratie)
  71. Sombok community (Kratie)
  72. Women network for Tropiang Pring community (Tbong Khmum)
  73. Romeas Haek rural women network (Svay Rieng)
  74. Chek Meas community network (Svay Rieng)
  75. Women network for Meanchey community (Svay Rieng)
  76. Dok Por women community (Takeo)
  77. Chok Chey women community (Takeo)
  78. Women united for Spean Ches community (Preah Sihanouk)
  79. 843 Women movement alliance (Koh Kong)
  80. Rural youth farmer alliance (Koh Kong)
  81. Preah Vihear youth farmer group (Preah Vihear)
  82. Tombe Meanchey youth network (Tbong Khmum)
  83. Kompong Ompil conservation forest community (Svay Rieng)
  84. Sithprosre community (Prey Veng)
  85. Chong Ompil land community (Prey Veng)
  86. Seang Kveang community (Prey Veng)
  87. Chrey Lerng farmer community (Prey Veng)
  88. Phom Khnom community (Kandal)
  89. Thmar Thom Andoung Tuek Praek Trabek Community (Preah Sihanouk)
  90. Ou Kampuchea Community (Preah Sihanouk)
  91. Kbal Hong Tuek Communtiy (Preah Sihanouk)
  92. Praek Traeng Community (Preah Sihanouk)
  93. Pongrouk Community (Kampot)
  94. Veal Veng Community (Kampot)
  95. Ang Svay Farmer Community (Kampot)
  96. Rural Farmer Land Community (Koh Kong)
  97. 843 Land Community (Koh Kong)
  98. 766 Land Community (Koh Kong)
  99. Nea Pisey Rural Land Community (Koh Kong)
  100. Chambak Trang Farmer Community (Kampong Speu)
  101. Odom Sre Kpos forest land community (Kompong Speu)
  102. Human right promotion land community (Kandal)
  103. Trey Sla community (Kandal)
  104. Totol community (Kandal)
  105. Ompov Prey community (Kandal)
  106. Kotarear community (Takeo)
  107. Samaki community (Takeo)
  108. Phum Kandal Community (Takeo)
  109. Trapeang Krasang Community (Takeo)
  110. Kanlaeng Khla Community (Takeo)
  111. Sambo Community (Preah Vihear)
  112. Russei Srok Community (Preah Vihear)
  113. Chouk Chey Community (Preah Vihear)
  114. Kalorth Community (Preah Vihear)
  115. Ou Romdoul Land Community (Preah Vihear)
  116. Phnom Ke Samaki Community (Preah Vihear)
  117. Bos Community (Preah Vihear)
  118. Tasou Meanrith Community (Preah Vihear)
  119. Trapeang Rolous Community (Prey Veng)

PDF format:  Download full statement in Khmer Download full statement in English

Joint Statement Veng Sreng Remembered: Eight Years of Silence but No Peace

Phnom Penh, 03 January 2022

We, the undersigned civil society groups, stand in solidarity with the families of the victims killed, injured, and disappeared eight years ago today when security forces opened fire on striking workers on Veng Sreng Boulevard in Phnom Penh. We continue to call for accountability for the violence and the disappearance of then-15-year-old Khem Sophath, who remains missing today.

On 3 January 2014, mixed government forces shot and killed at least four people and wounded at least 38 others when shutting down peaceful strikes on Veng Sreng Boulevard. The strikes of garment workers calling for a fair minimum wage were brutal and disproportionate. The eventual investigation into the shooting was reported to last just three weeks and failed to hold anyone accountable for the deaths of Kim Phaleap, Sam Ravy, Yean Rithy and Pheng Kosal. In contrast, 23 workers and human rights defenders were arrested and later convicted in a farcical trial on charges of aggravated intentional violence, aggravated intentional destruction of property, obstruction and insult related to the protests.

Khem Sophath, a 15-year-old child, remains missing to this day. Sophath was last seen lying face down in a pool of his own blood from an apparent gunshot wound to the chest, urging others to save themselves as forces continued to fire on demonstrators. When demonstrators returned to the spot after the gunfire ceased, Sophath was gone. Brigadier General Kheng Tito of the military police confirmed weeks after the incident that Sophath was not among the arrested.

In May 2014, two men found fragments of bones and the remains of burned tires at Brigade 70 military base in Kampong Speu province, leading to speculation that those remains belonged to Khem Sophath. The government denies that the remains were those of Khem Sophath, but has also failed to conduct a thorough, independent, impartial or effective investigation as is required by law. The government has further failed to provide the family with information regarding the investigation’s measures and any developments towards uncovering the truth of what happened to their teenage son.

In Leakena, Sophath’s mother, is left with only questions.  “If he was shot and killed, his body shouldn’t be taken away—then I couldn’t arrange a proper ceremony for him.” She said, “I pray for him every year at home—without his body or knowing whether he is still alive or dead.”  She appealed to all parties to “find justice for my son.”

Cambodia agreed to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance prior to Khem Sophath’s disappearance and is thus obligated to take appropriate measures to locate Sophath, to keep his family informed of the investigation into his disappearance, and to provide “fair and adequate” compensation.

On the anniversary of Khem Sophath’s disappearance, we call on the Royal Government of Cambodia to:

– Assist the family of a disappeared child find peace by taking immediate, concrete measures to investigate Khem Sophath’s disappearance until his fate is determined, including but not limited to identifying and effectively interviewing all armed and security forces present at the site of disappearance.
– Hold the appropriate parties accountable for the disappearance of Khem Sophath and the shooting of Khem Sophath, Kim Phaleap, Sam Ravy, Yean Rithy and Pheng Kosal, and file proper charges for a thorough, independent, impartial and effective prosecution.
– Share progress and results of the investigation to date and going forward with Khem Sophath’s family, including what scientific examinations were conducted to examine the remains found in May 2014 at the Brigade 70 military base and how they were determined to not belong to Khem Sophath.
– Respect and return any identified remains to Khem Sophath’s family and grant them its full support in seeking reparations.

Signed by:

  1. 197 Land Community (Koh Kong)
  2. Am Leang Community (Kampong Speu)
  3. Activities for Environment Community (AEC)
  4. Areng Indigenous Community​ (Koh Kong)
  5. Bos Snor Community (Tbong Khmum)
  6. Boeung Pram Community (Battambang)
  7. Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Federation of Cambodia (BWTUC)
  8. Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions (CATU)
  9. Cambodian Labor Confederation (CLC)
  10. Cambodian Food and Service Workers’ Federation (CFSWF)
  11. Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC)
  12. Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR)
  13. Cambodia’s Independent Civil Servants Association (CICA)
  14. Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association (CITA)
  15. Cambodian Informal Economy Workers Association (CIWA-CLC)
  16. Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO)
  17. Cambodian Tourism Workers Union Federation (CTWUF)
  18. Cambodian Youth Network (CYN)
  19. Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (CENTRAL)
  20. Chi Kha Kraom Land Community (Koh Kong)
  21. Charay Indigenous Community (Ratanakiri)
  22. Coalition for Integrity and Social Accountability (CISA)
  23. Coalition of Cambodian Farmers Community Association (CCFC)
  24. Community Peace-Building Network (CPN)
  25. Community to Protect Nature (Pursat)
  26. Dak Por Community (Kampong Speu)
  27. Equitable Cambodia (EC)
  28. Gender and Development Cambodia (GADC)
  29. Haong Samnam Community (Kampong Speu)
  30. Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA)
  31. Independent Trade Union Federation (INTUFE)
  32. Indigenous Community in Prame Commune (Preah Vihear)
  33. Khmer Kampuchea Krom For Human Rights and Development Association (KKKHRDA)
  34. Koh Sralao Fishery Community (Koh Kong)
  35. Kouy​ Indigenous​​ Community (Preah Vihear)
  36. Labour Right Supported Union Khmer Employee of Nagaworld (L.R.S.U)
  37. Land Community (Pailin)
  38. Lor Peang Land Community (Kampong Chhnang)
  39. Mean Chey Land Community (Svay Rieng)
  40. Ou Damdaek Community (Kampong Thom)
  41. Peace Bridges Organization (PBO)
  42. Peam Ros Community (Kampong Speu)
  43. Phum Sela Khmer Land Community (Banteay Meanchey)
  44. Phnom Tnaut Community (Kampot)
  45. Ponlok Khmer (PKH)
  46. Prey Lang Community (Kampong Thom)
  47. Prey Peay Fishery Community (Kampot)
  48. Prey Chher Pech Changvar Laor Chhert Community (Kampong Chhnang)
  49. Reaksmei Sameakki Community (Kampong Speu)
  50. Sahmakum Teang Tnaut (STT)
  51. Samaki Chek Meas Community (Svay Rieng)
  52. Samaki Sangkae Pir Mean Rith (Preah Vihear)
  53. Sre Ampel Water Fall Tourism Forestry Community
  54. Sre Prang Community (Tboung Khmum)
  55. Ta Ni Land Community (Siem Reap)
  56. Ta Noun Land Community (Koh Kong)
  57. The Cambodian NGO Committee on CEDAW (NGO-CEDAW)
  58. Transparency International Cambodia (TI)
  59. Youth Resources Development Program (YRDP)
    PDF format:  Download full statement in Khmer Download full statement in English

Joint Statement on Strike Action by NagaWorld Employees

18 December 2021

We, as civil society organisations, trade union federations, confederations and associations working to promote and protect labour and human rights in Cambodia express our firm solidarity with striking employees at NagaWorld Limited who are currently exercising their fundamental rights to peacefully strike according to the Labour Law, the Law on Trade Unions and their statutes previously registered with the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training. We are extremely disappointed with the provisional disposition issued by the Phnom Penh Court of First Instance on 16 December 2021 which declared this strike to be illegal and call on NagaWorld to engage with its employees and their representatives directly and in good faith to resolve this dispute.

On 18 December 2021, more than 1,300 employees of NagaWorld Limited, including members of the Labour Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees of NagaWorld (LRSU) began strike action to demand reinstatement of 365 employees previously dismissed as part of a mass force layoff 1,329 workers in late April 2021. Amongst those dismissed include the entirety of the local LRSU leadership, including Union President Chhim Sithar, as well as elected shop stewards. Shortly after the strike began, representatives from the Phnom Penh Court of First Instance read out a provisional disposition issued by the Phnom Penh Court of First Instance on 16 December 2021 which declared the strike to be illegal and ordered striking workers to return to work. According to the order, those workers who do not return to work will be considered to have committed serious misconduct, paving the way for NagaWorld to terminate their employment. LRSU was not given notice of the court’s decision until approximately 9:30 AM on December 18, 2021. The provisional disposition was issued with LRSU being provided no opportunity to contest or respond to Naga World’s request to prohibit the strike prior to the decision being made. Paragraph 4 of Section 548 of the Code of Civil Procedure requires the court to hold a court date for either oral arguments or questioning prior to issuing a provisional disposition. In circumstances where the court has issued a provisional disposition before the strike had even occurred, it ought to have summoned LRSU for either oral arguments or questioning before making its decision.

Also on the afternoon of 18 December, the Phnom Penh Administration issued a letter to a number of LRSU leaders, instructing them to cease their “demonstration” as it did not comply with Article 5 of the Law on Peaceful Demonstrations. However, Point 3-1-2 of Section I of the Implementation Guide to the Law on Peaceful Demonstrations, issued by the Ministry of Interior through Decision No. 2337/10 states clearly that the Law on Peaceful Demonstrations does not apply to labour disputes which take place outside or adjacent to an enterprise. As such, the Phnom Penh Administration should not attempt to dissolve a strike by referring to a law which is not applicable for this case.

The strike at NagaWorld has occurred after consistent refusals by management to engage in genuine or good faith negotiation with LRSU and failures by the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and Phnom Penh City Hall to secure resolution. The right to collective bargaining and the right to strike are guaranteed to Cambodian workers both by virtue of the Cambodian Constitution, as well as International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions nos. 87 and 98, both of which have been ratified by the Kingdom of Cambodia. The Constitutional Council of Cambodia has previously ruled that international treaties ratified and recognised by Cambodia form part of Cambodian domestic law.

We recall that in January 2020, NagaWorld employees conducted strike action demanding pay increases as well as the reinstatement of LRSU President Chhim Sithar. At the time, NagaWorld responded by similarly requesting the Phnom Penh Court of First Instance declare the strike as illegal and order employees to return to work. As civil society organisations, trade unions and associations working to protect and promote labour and human rights in Cambodia, we see Naga World’s response to both the January 2020 and present strike as little more than a blatant attempt to silence the collective voice of LRSU members and NagaWorld employees more broadly. The Phnom Penh Court of First Instance should not have accepted Naga​​ World’s request for provisional disposition and its decision to issue such an order severely undermines the fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed to NagaWorld employees by the Cambodian Constitution. The ILO has as recently as this year called on the Cambodian Government to take necessary measures to guarantee the lawful and peaceful exercise of the right to strike.

We hope that LRSU members and NagaWorld employees will not be cowed into silence through these forms of legal action and intimidation. The only way to resolve this dispute is for the company to immediately engage in genuine and good faith negotiations with NagaWorld workers and their representatives to find a mutually acceptable solution. The legal system must not be used as a tool by which to silence workers’ voices. We appeal to NagaWorld, the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and all relevant local authorities to immediately make all necessary efforts to peacefully resolve this dispute.

This statement is supported by:

  1. 197 Land Community (Koh Kong)
  2. Andong Trabek Land Community (Svay Rieng)
  3. Areng Indigenous Community (Koh Kong)
  4. Boeung Pram Community (Battambang)
  5. Bos Snor Community (Tbong Khmum)
  6. Building and Wood Workers’ Trade Union Federation of Cambodia (BWTUC)
  7. Cambodia Informal Workers’ Association (CIWA)
  8. Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions (CATU)
  9. Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR)
  10. Cambodian Food and Service Workers’ Federation (CFSWF)
  11. Cambodian Human Rights Action Coalition (CHRAC)
  12. Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC)
  13. Cambodian Independent Civil Servants’ Association (CICA)
  14. Cambodian Informal Employment Reinforcement Association (CIERA)
  15. Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defence of Human Rights (LICADHO)
  16. Cambodian Tourism Workers’ Union Federation (CTWUF)
  17. Cambodian Youth Network (CYN)
  18. Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (CENTRAL)
  19. Charay Indigenous Community (Ratanakiri)
  20. Chi Kha Kraom Land Community (Koh Kong)
  21. Chi Kha Leu Land Community (Koh Kong)
  22. Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (CCAWDU)
  23. Coalition of Cambodian Farmers Community Association (CCFC)
  24. Coalition of Free Trade Unions of Women Textile (CFTUWT)
  25. Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (COMFREL)
  26. Community to Protect Nature (Pursat)
  27. Dak Por Community (Kampong Speu)
  28. Free and Independent Trade Union Federation (FUFI)
  29. Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia (FTUWKC)
  30. Haong Samnam Community (Kampong Speu)
  31. Independent Democratic of Informal Economy Association (IDEA)
  32. Independent Trade Union Federation (INTUFE)
  33. Indigenous Community in Prame Commune (Preah Vihear)
  34. Klaing Toek 78 Community (Siem Reap)
  35. Koh Sralao Fishery Community (Koh Kong)
  36. Kouy Indigenous Community (Preah Vihear)
  37. Land Community (Pailin)
  38. Lor Peang Community (Kampong Chhnang)
  39. Ou Chamsrey Tradakpong Community (Kampong Thom)
  40. Ou Damdaek Community (Kampong Thom)
  41. Ou Vor Preng Community (Battambang)
  42. Peam Ros Community (Kampong Speu)
  43. Phnom Tnaut Community (Kampot)
  44. Prey Chher Pech Changvar Laor Chhert Community (Kampong Chhnang)
  45. Prey Lang Community (Kampong Thom)
  46. Prey Peay Land Community (Kampot)
  47. Samaki Sangkae Pir Mean Rith (Preah Vihear)
  48. Samakum Teang Tnaut (STT)
  49. Solidarity House (SH)
  50. Sre Ampel Water Fall Tourism Forestry Community (Kampong Chhnang)
  51. Sre Prang Community (Tboung Khmum)
  52. Steung Khsach Sor Forestry Resource (Kampong Chhnang)
  53. Ta Ni Land Community (Siem Reap)
  54. Ta Noun Land Community (Koh Kong)
  55. Thmar Da Community (Pursat)
  56. Tonlung Community (Tboung Khmum)
  57. Workers’ Solidarity Strength Independent Union (WSSIU)
  58. Youth Resource Development Program (YRDP)
  59. Equitable Cambodia (EC)
    PDF format:  Download full statement in Khmer Download full statement in English

Joint Statement on Severe Violations of the Labour Rights and Basic Freedoms of the Trade Union at NagaWorld Limited

We, as representatives of trade union confederations, federations, associations and civil society organisations working to promote human rights and labour rights in the Kingdom of Cambodia are extremely disappointed with the intention and attempts to dissolve the union leadership structure and the unreasonable and unacceptable planned systematic reduction of staff during the COVID-19 crisis at NagaWorld Limited.

The recent notice of dismissal of trade union leaders and activists clearly shows NagaWorld’s intention to severely violate the basic rights and freedoms of professional organisations (trade unions) stated in the core conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). Article 1 of Convention No. 98 on the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining states: “Workers shall enjoy adequate protection against acts of anti-union discrimination in respect of their employment,” including compulsion to not join or to resign from a union, dismissal from employment or other forms of harm. Article 2 states: “Workers’ and employers’ organisations shall enjoy adequate protection against any acts of interference by each other or each other’s agents or members in their establishment, functioning or administration.” In particular, all actions taken to aid workers’ organisations which fall under the compulsion of the employer or employers’ organisations or which provide support by monetary means or other means to place workers’ organisations under the influence of employers or employers’ organisations are considered as acts of interference. Instead, the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training has agreed to the company’s request to dismiss them. Meanwhile, the company pushed those terminated leaders and activists to ask ministerial officials themselves when the union demanded to view the letter authorizing dismissal of trade union leaders who otherwise have this special protection.

On 8 April 2021, representatives of NagaWorld Limited announced a planned layoff of 1,329 staff members out of its total of more than 8,000 staff due to the COVID-19 crisis. At the end of April, company representatives confirmed that the company would directly contact each staff listed for layoff, as well as summoning them for a meeting on company premises.

Through the union, a majority of employees objected to this planned layoff and did not accept the reasoning raised by the company as the company had not faced any business losses, having made a net profit of more than US$102 million in 2020. According to NagaWorld’s own financial reports, in the first two months of 2021 alone the company made a net profit of more than US$172 million whilst staff had their working hours reduced by up to 60% in order to reduce company expenses and received wages only according to their actual number of days worked.

For this planned mass layoff, the company did not discuss the procedures of preparation according to Article 95 of the Labour Law or present the categories of employees which would be affected by this layoff. Instead, when notifying employees, the layoff only affected those workers with long employment seniority, especially those who are union leaders, shop stewards, union activists and union members, with more than 1,100 of the 1,329 workers (equivalent to 82%) to be laid off being union members.

The majority of workers who received notice of dismissal from the company felt forced to resign from employment and did not dare to continue protesting with the company even though they knew they were victims of injustice. The company provided severance packages not in line with the Labour Law. Of the 1,329 workers, 373 objected and refused to take these severance packages, demanding the company apply the Labour Law and reinstate them to their previous employment.

After multiple negotiations without resolution, worker decided to complain to the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training in June and continued negotiations to the Arbitration Council at the start of July 2021. Arbitration Council Award No. 12/21 issued on 10 September 2021 did not consider the demands of 373 workers to be reinstated with the Arbitration Council seemingly referring to the reasoning of the company and not the Labour Law which states that the role of the Arbitration Council is to resolve all disputes forwarded to it by the Ministry of Labour. The Arbitration Council pushed procedures back to the Labour Inspector, claiming that the workers’ demands for reinstatement currently fell under his consideration.

On 23 September 2021, the union sent a letter requesting the Department of Labour Inspections order NagaWorld to reinstate the 373 workers after NagaWorld submitted a request to dismiss workers to the Department of Labour Inspections on 6 August 2021 which was not legally valid.

On 23 September 2021, the union sent a letter to NagaWorld requesting preparation of work shifts for these 373 workers as for other workers.

On 18 October 2021, the union sent a letter to His Excellency the Minister of Labour and Vocational Training requesting a meeting to report about the dispute and non-implementation of the Labour Law at NagaWorld after failing to receive a reply from the Labour Inspector. However, the Minister has also not responded to the union’s request either.

The union has tried to find a peaceful resolution with the company, but the company has ignored the union’s requests to meet. Instead, the company has only tried to lobby workers present at the workplace to organise a group to discuss various issues with them which shows the company’s intention to discriminate the union and does not have a spirit to promote professional relations in the company with the union.

On 5 November 2021, Human Resources staff of the company issued a notice terminating the contracts of union leaders and shop stewards.

The suffering and injustice suffered by workers at NagaWorld is a reflection of law enforcement in Cambodia and is a bad example for other employers to follow the experience of NagaWorld. We, as representatives of trade union confederations, federations, associations and civil society organisations working to promote human rights and labour rights in the Kingdom of Cambodia will continue to attentively monitor this case and call on the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training to review the request to dismiss employees which was not implemented properly according to the Labour Law and conduct proper labour inspections based on legal principles to strengthen the rule of law in Cambodia. Moreover, the neglect of legal enforcement by this enormous company will be a bad example for other investors to emulate, causing more workers to suffer injustice, as well as tarnishing the Royal Government’s image internationally.

We request the Royal Government inspect and intervene to provide an acceptable resolution to this case. We also call on NagaWorld management to negotiate in good faith with union representatives to find a resolution acceptable to both sides and form good professional relations with the union at the workplace. In particular, we call for the reinstatement of these 373 employees and an end to all discrimination and oppression against the union.

 Phnom Penh , 01   December  2021             

This statement is supported by:

1.     Cambodian Youth Network (CYN)

2.    Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions (CATU)

3.    Independent Trade Union Federation (INTUFE)

4.    Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Community​​ (CCFC)

5.    Cambodian Food and Service Workers Federation (CFSWF)

6.    Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Federation of Cambodia (BWTUC)

7.    Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA)

8.    Cambodian Tourism Workers Union Federation (CTWUF)

9.    Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia (FTUWKC)

10.  Free Independent Trade Union Federation (FUFI)

11.  Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Unions (C.CAWDU)

12.  Cambodia Informal Workers Association (CIWA)

  1. Coalition Free Trade Union of the Women Textile (CFTUWT)

14.  Workers’ Solidarity Strength Independent Union (WSSIU)

15.  Solidarity House (SH)

16.  Cambodia’s Independent Public Servant Association (CICA)

17.  Cambodia Informal Employment Reinforcement Association (CIERA)

18.  Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO)

19.  Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (CENTRAL)

20.  Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC)

21.  Committee for Free and Fair Election in Cambodia (COMFREL)

22.  Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR)

23.  Sahmakum Teang Tnaut (STT)
24.  Cambodia Human Rights Action Coalition (CHRAC)

25.  Youth Resource Development Program (YRDP)

 

Statement: More reforms needed beyond conditional releases of activists

November 24, 2021 – We the undersigned civil society groups welcome the release of more than 27 wrongfully imprisoned and unjustly convicted activists from prison in recent days and celebrate the fact that they are reunited with their families. However, many of these activists continue to face criminal charges or remain under judicial supervision with onerous conditions as a result of exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly. No action has been taken to reform the laws and systems that led to their persecution and which have destroyed the space for activism and political participation in Cambodia.

Considering that many of the activists have been released on bail or remain subject to probation for several years following a suspended sentence, they are no longer able to undertake their work to defend human rights or the environment, speak out against injustices, or participate in political life without fear of arrest. Such releases also do not remedy the fact that the activists were wrongfully convicted and that many were detained for over one year in overcrowded prisons that one activist described as “hell”.

In addition, more than 60 other people, including journalists, political activists, social media users, and more than a dozen land rights activists, remain in prison over their work and activism. Charges of incitement and plotting are still regularly levelled against anyone who dares to speak out or criticise the government, and the normalisation of this repression and increasing self-censorship is a growing threat.

These releases are not substitutes for fundamental reforms to Cambodia’s laws and institutions. Cambodians face ongoing restrictions to the right to participate freely in politics and choose their leaders. The Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) remains dissolved; other parties are denied the right to be formed; and all parties are subject to the decisions of the partial judiciary and the Ministry of Interior, which hold ultimate decision power over whether they can compete in upcoming elections.

Human rights in the country remain under constant threat by a politicised judiciary and repressive laws and decrees. Problematic legislative instruments include recent amendments to the Constitution, Law on Political Parties and election laws, as well as the Trade Union Law, the law governing NGOs and associations, the Covid-19 law, the Law on Telecommunications, and the establishment of a new National Internet Gateway. These amendments and laws must be repealed to restore Cambodia’s civic and political space.

While we celebrate these activists’ release, we also are reminded that their conditional release does not fix the structural injustices that they spoke out against prior to their arrest and that they and others remain under threat. We call on the government to take structural steps to restore democracy and civic space in the country, and to restore the fundamental rights of all Cambodians prior to the next elections. We further call on the government to release all political prisoners and activists persecuted for exercising their
fundamental rights; to overturn existing wrongful convictions; and to drop all charges, probationary requirements and judicial supervision for these released activists.

Joined by:
1. 197 Land Community (Koh Kong)
2. Am Leang Community (Kampong Speu)
3. Alliance for Conflict Transformation (ACT)
4. Activities for Environment Community (AEC)
5. Areng Indigenous Community
6. Boeung Pram Community (Battambang)
7. Building Community Voices (BCV)
8. Buddhism for Peace Organization (BPO)
9. Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions (CATU)
10. Cambodian Labor Confederation (CLC)
11. Cambodian Food and Service Workers’ Federation (CFSWF)
12. Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC)
13. Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR)
14. Cambodian Human Rights Action Coalition (CHRAC)
15. Cambodia’s Independent Civil Servants Association (CICA)
16. Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association (CITA)
17. Cambodian Institute for Democracy (CID)
18. Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO)
19. Cambodian Tourism Workers Union Federation (CTWUF)
20. Cambodian Youth Network (CYN)
21. Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (CENTRAL)
22. Chi Kha Kraom Land Community (Koh Kong)
23. Chi Kha Leu Land Community (Koh Kong)
24. Charay Indigenous Community (Ratanakiri)
25. Choam Kravien Community (Tboung Khmum)
26. Coalition for Integrity and Social Accountability (CISA)
27. Coalition of Cambodian Farmers Community Association (CCFC)
28. Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (COMFREL)
29. Community Peace-Building Network (CPN)
30. Community to Protect Nature (Pursat)
31. Dak Por Community (Kampong Speu)
32. Equitable Cambodia (EC)
33. Gender and Development Cambodia (GADC)
34. Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA)
35. Independent Monk Network for Social Justice (IMNSJ)
36. Khmer Kampuchea Krom For Human Rights and Development Association (KKKHRDA)
37. Kouy Indigenous Community (Preah Vihear)
38. Kleang Toek 78 Community (Siemreap)
39. Koh Sralao Fishery Community (Koh Kong)
40. Labour Right Supported Union Khmer Employee of Nagaworld (L.R.S.U)
41. Land Community (Pailin)
42. Lor Peang Land Community (Kampong Chhnang)
43. Mean Chey Land Community (Svay Rieng)
44. Peace Bridges Organization (PBO)
45. People Center for Development and Peace (PDP-Center)
46. Phum Sela Khmer Land Community (Banteay Meanchey)
47. Ponlok Khmer (PKH)
48. Prek Ksach Land Community (Koh Kong)
49. Prey Peay Fishery Community (Kampot)
50. Prey Chher Pech Changvar Laor Chhert Community (Kampong Chhnang)
51. Prey Lang Community (Kampong Thom)
52. Rattanak Rokha Forestry Community (Oddar Meanchey)
53. Sahmakum Teang Tnaut (STT)
54. Samaki Chek Meas Community (Svay Rieng)
55. Samaki Romeas Haek Community (Svay Rieng)
56. Samaki Sangkae Pir Mean Rith (Preah Vihear)
57. Sre Ampel Water Fall Tourism Forestry Community (Kampong Chhnang)
58. Sre Prang Community (Tboung Khmum)
59. Steung Khsach Sor Forestry Resource (Kampong Chhnang)
60. Ta Ni Land Community (Siemreap)
61. Ta Noun Land Community (Koh Kong)
62. The Cambodian NGO Committee on CEDAW (NGO-CEDAW)
63. Tonlung Community (Tboung Khmum)
64. Trapeang Chour Community (Kampong Speu)
65. Transparency International Cambodia (TIC)
66. Youth Resources Development Program (YRDP)

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