Open letter to French President François Hollande ahead of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s visit

23/10/2015
Open Letter
en fr

François Hollande
Élysée Palace
Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré
75008 Paris
France

Paris, 23 October 2015

Mr. President,

On the occasion of the upcoming visit to France by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, FIDH and its member organizations in Cambodia and France, the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC), the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO), and the French League for Human Rights (LDH), wish to convey their utmost concern over recent human rights violations in Cambodia.

Since July, authorities have arbitrarily detained and imprisoned four environmental rights defenders, 14 members and supporters of the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP), one senator from the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, two Buddhist monks, and one student. They have all been deprived of their liberty for merely exercising the rights guaranteed by international human rights instruments.

After a blatantly unfair trial, 11 of the 14 CNRP members and supporters were sentenced to prison terms ranging from seven to 20 years on charges relating to insurrection for participating in a demonstration calling for the respect of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly in Phnom Penh a year earlier. Senator Hong Sok Hour, who holds dual French-Cambodian citizenship, remains detained on various trumped-up and politically motivated charges after posting a video on Facebook that unbeknown to him contained images of an inaccurate reproduction of a historical document pertaining to the Vietnam-Cambodia border.

We urge you to call on Prime Minister Hun Sen to order the immediate and unconditional release of all 21 individuals incarcerated since July.

The drafting and the adoption of legislation that imposes significant limitations on the right to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and association are also of grave concern. The Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations (LANGO), enacted in September after a secretive drafting process, has been widely condemned by Cambodian civil society for its unnecessary and arbitrarily enforceable restrictions on the activities of associations and NGOs. The government is currently drafting other equally restrictive laws, such as the Trade Union Law, the Cybercrime Law, and the Telecommunications Law. As in the case of the LANGO, this legislation is likely to be approved without adequate consultation from interested and affected stakeholders.

We call on you to demand the Cambodian government scrap these draft laws and encourage a more open, participatory, and inclusive legislative drafting process.

Today marks the anniversary of the Paris Peace Agreements, which France and Cambodia, along with 17 other states, signed in 1991. The Peace Agreements, which closed a tragic page of Cambodia’s recent history, declared that all persons in the country “shall enjoy the rights and freedoms embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other relevant international human rights instruments.” Twenty-four years on, the human rights commitments spelled out in the Peace Agreements have all but evaporated.

France must be ready to publicly condemn the serious human rights violations occurring in Cambodia and show its support for the country’s dynamic and resilient civil society.

We encourage you to raise the above-mentioned issues in your dialogue with Prime Minister Hun Sen and demand that his administration respect, promote, and fulfill human rights principles in accordance with its international obligations and the numerous recommendations made by various human rights bodies of the United Nations.

We thank you for your attention on this important matter.

Sincerely,

Karim Lahidji
FIDH President

Thun Saray
ADHOC President

Naly Pilorge
LICADHO Director

Françoise Dumont
LDH President

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