Cambodia: Bail refused for 21 workers and human rights defenders

Press release

The Cambodian government must immediately and unconditionally release the 21 garment workers and human rights defenders who have been detained since early January, FIDH and its member organizations Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC) and Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO) said today.

The Cambodian government must live up to its obligations under international law and drop all charges against those arrested for exercising their rights to peaceful assembly, expression, and association ,” FIDH President Karim Lahidji said.

On February 11, the Phnom Penh Court of Appeals refused to grant bail to 21 garment workers and human rights defenders detained in Correctional Center 3 (CC3) in Kampong Cham Province. The 21 men were not present at the closed-door hearing. On February 8, Bou Sarith and Yon Sok Chea, two of the 23 who had been arrested during a brutal crackdown on 2-3 January, were released on bail from CC3 and Kampong Cham prison respectively.

It’s shameful that 21 workers and human rights defenders have remained in jail for over a month because they took part in a strike while those responsible for the killing of four workers remain at large ,” LICADHO Director Naly Pilorge said.

On January 2-3, security forces arrested 23 people, including garment workers and human rights defenders, during a brutal crackdown on striking garment workers at two separate locations in Phnom Penh. Among those detained were: Vorn Pov, President of IDEA; Theng Savuen, Coordinator of the Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Community (CCFC); and Chan Puthisak, a human rights defender from the Boeung Kak Lake community. In addition to the four people who were killed, 25 others suffered bullet wounds in the January 3 crackdown.

On February 4, the government concluded its investigation on the January 3 crackdown on striking workers at the Canadia Industrial Park, in southwest Phnom Penh. However, to date, the authorities have failed to disclose the probe’s findings. FIDH, ADHOC, and LICADHO reiterate their call for a thorough, transparent, and independent investigation into the use of lethal force to suppress a workers’ strike on January 3.

Despite its promises to the international community, the Cambodian government is failing to respect the rule of law, combat impunity, and promote judicial reforms. Now it’s time for the international community to let the government know that the repression of its peoples’ basic freedoms will no longer be tolerated ,” ADHOC President Thun Saray said.

For more information, please contact:

FIDH: Arthur Manet / Audrey Couprie: +33143552518
ADHOC: Mr. Thun Saray: +855 16880509
LICADHO: Dr. Kek Chhiv Pung: +85512802506

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