Hindrance to freedom of association / Threats - KHM 002 / 0607 / OBS 064

07/06/2007
Urgent Appeal

The Observatory has been informed by the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defence of Human Rights (LICADHO) about the threats against the UK-based NGO Global Witness, which is particularly active in the protection of the environment and natural resources, and the obstacles to its work in Cambodia.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Cambodia.

Brief description of the situation:

According to The Cambodian Daily, on June 3, 2007, the Cambodian Minister of Information, Mr. Khieu Kanharith, issued a statement, saying that the government was banning Global Witness latest report and would confiscate any copies found in the country. He reportedly said the report was "a politically motivated attack on Prime Minister Hun Sen and retaliation for the group’s expulsion from Cambodia in 2005".

Global Witness report, titled "Cambodia’s Family Trees: Illegal logging and the stripping of public assets by Cambodia’s elite", was released on June 1, 2007. It notably accuses members of the Cambodian ‘kleptocratic elite’ of massive environmental plunder and participation in a logging syndicate[1]. It also denounces the illegal destruction of Cambodia’s forests carried out by family members and business associates of Prime Minister Hun Sen, his wife, and other senior officials.

On June 4, 2007, Mr. Hun Neng, Kompong Cham provincial Governor and the Prime Minister’s brother, declared that he was considering to take legal action over the allegations made in the report against members of his family. He added that if Global Witness’s members came to Cambodia, he would "hit them until their heads are broken".

The Observatory is deeply concerned about the continuing threats on human rights defenders and civil society in general, as well as the restrictions on their work and the exercise of freedom of expression in Cambodia.

Actions required:

Please write to the authorities of Cambodia urging them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Global Witness members and put an end to any kind of obstacle to their work;

ii. Put an end to any kind of act of harassment and threats against Global Witness as well as against all human rights defenders in the country;

iii. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially its article 1, which states that "everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels" and article 12.2, which states that "the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration";

iv. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by the Kingdom of Cambodia.

Addresses :

- Mr. Samdech Hun Sen, Prime Minister, Office of the Prime Minister, Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia, Fax : +00 855 23 36 06 66 / 855 23 88 06 24 (c/o Council of Ministers), Email: leewood_phu@nida.gov.kh

- Mr. Sok An, Deputy Prime Minister, 41, Russian Federation Boulevard, Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia. Tel : +00 855 12 80 44 42 ; Fax : +00 855 23 88 06 24 ; e-mail : leewood_phu@nida.gov.kh

- Mr. Sar Kheng, Deputy Prime Minister and Co-Minister of Interior, Ministry of Interior, 275 Norodom Blvd,
Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia. Fax : +00 855 23 72 60 52

- Mr. Hor Nam Hong, Minister of Foreign Affairs, 161 Preah Sisowath Quay, Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia. Fax: +00 855 23 21 61 44 / +00 855 23 21 69 39

- Mr. Om Yentieng, President of the Cambodian Human Rights Committee, Office of the Prime Minister, Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia. Fax: +00 855 12 81 37 81 / +00 855 23 21 11 62 or +855 23 88 10 45 (c/o Council of Ministers)

- Ambassador Mr. Vun Chheang, Permanent Mission of Cambodia to the United Nations in Geneva, Chemin de Taverney 3, Case postale 213, 1218 Grand-Saconnex, Switzerland ; Fax: 00 41 22 788 77 74

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Cambodia in your respective countries.

***

Geneva - Paris, June 7, 2007

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

The Observatory was the winner of the 1998 Human Rights Prize of the French Republic.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

Email : Appeals@fidh-omct.org

Tel et fax FIDH : + 33 1 43 55 55 05 / 33 1 43 55 18 80
Tel et fax OMCT : +41 22 809 49 39 / 41 22 809 49 29

[1] A logging syndicate, as described in the report, is a "group, combination, or association of gangsters controlling organised crime or one type of crime, in this case logging, especially in one region of the country".

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