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Former RFA Reporters’ Verdict Delayed Indefinitely

October 3, 2019 The Phnom Penh Municipal Court this morning once again delayed a verdict announcement for two former Radio Free Asia journalists, Uon Chhin and Yeang Sothearin, who face charges of providing information to a foreign power that could undermine national defence. The judge ordered further investigation of the case, a judgement that came amidst a trial that has failed to provide any credible evidence substantiating the charges.

LICADHO calls for all charges against the two former journalists to be immediately dropped.

A Phnom Penh Municipal Court judge announced this morning that the court would not issue a verdict announcement in the case and instead would further investigate several key facts, including conducting further forensic analysis on hard drives that have been in the court’s possession for more than 18 months. No timeframe was given for such an investigation. This ongoing legal process means that the two former journalists could continue to face charges without any credible evidence indefinitely.

Chhin and Sothearin were charged under Article 445 of the Criminal Code for activities which can “undermine national defence” and Articles 38 and 39 of the human trafficking law. They were arrested on 14 November 2017 and spent more than nine months in pre-trial detention before being granted bail. The two men worked for RFA prior to the outlet shuttering its Phnom Penh bureau as a result of a wave of government’s repression that silenced a number of independent media outlets, including RFA’s FM radio broadcasts.

Both men have denied the accusations levied against them by authorities, while local and international rights groups and press freedom advocates have repeatedly called for the immediate dropping of all charges against the former journalists.

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Video
Selling Land to Repay MFI Debt

August 19, 2019audio available

Farmers often take microfinance debt, but then struggle to repay it due to falling crop prices or crop failures. Selling their land is sometimes the only way they can repay their microfinance loans.

Video
Debt-driven Migration

August 13, 2019audio available

Many Cambodians have had family members migrate to pay off microfinance debts. A report by the IOM in 2016 found that more than 40% of Cambodians who migrated abroad did so to pay debts. End debt-driven migration.

Video
Vicious Cycle of Debt

August 8, 2019audio available

The average size of a microloan in Cambodia is now the highest in the world. Many farmers are trapped in a cycle of debt, forced to get larger and larger loans to survive. Watch the video below to learn one man's story.

Statement
Collateral Damage: Land Loss and Abuses in Cambodia's Microfinance Sector

August 7, 2019audio available

More than 2 million Cambodians currently have a loan with a microfinance institution, or MFI. Levels of debt have skyrocketed in recent years, leading to a number of human rights abuses, including coerced land sales, child labour, debt-driven migration, and bonded labour, according to a joint report from the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO) and Sahmakum Teang Tnaut (STT), two Cambodian human rights NGOs. Collateral Damage: Land Losses and Abuses in Cambodia’s Microfinance Sector details the size and scope of Cambodia’s MFI sector and seeks to highlight the human rights abuses that researchers discovered. The research spans 10 communes in 4 provinces as well as Phnom Penh and features seven detailed case studies of abuses, chosen from the 28 MFI clients who suffered human rights abuses that were interviewed by researchers.

Video
Collateral Damage: Land Loss and Abuses in Cambodia's Microfinance Sector

August 7, 2019audio available

More than 2 million Cambodians currently have a loan with a microfinance institution, or MFI. Levels of debt have skyrocketed in recent years, leading to a number of human rights abuses, including coerced land sales, child labour, debt-driven migration, and bonded labour, according to a joint report from the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO) and Sahmakum Teang Tnaut (STT).

Collateral Damage: Land Losses and Abuses in Cambodia’s Microfinance Sector details the size and scope of Cambodia’s MFI sector and seeks to highlight the human rights abuses that researchers discovered. The research spans 10 communes in 4 provinces as well as Phnom Penh and features seven detailed case studies of abuses, chosen from the 28 MFI clients who suffered human rights abuses that were interviewed by researchers.

Statement
Arrest Of Two Activists Highlights Authorities’ Lack Of Respect For Freedom Of Expression And Assembly

July 12, 2019audio available

We, the undersigned civil society groups, denounce the unjustified use of security personnel during the third anniversary of political commentator Kem Ley’s death and call for the immediate and unconditional release of two activists, Kong Raiya and Soung Neakpaon, from detention and the dropping of all charges against them. Both men were arrested for peacefully exercising their freedom of expression while commemorating the anniversary of the death of political commentator Kem Ley, who was murdered on 10 July 2016. Shortly after their arrests, both men were charged with criminal incitement under Articles 494 and 495 of the Criminal Code and are being detained at Phnom Penh’s Correctional Center 1.

Article
Authorities Detain Seven People for Marking Third Anniversary of Kem Ley’s death

July 10, 2019audio available

Authorities detained seven people on July 9 and July 10 for expressing their condolences and support for murdered political commentator Kem Ley, while people marking the third anniversary of his killing at the site of his murder in Phnom Penh were surrounded by police. These detentions mark the continuation of a heavy-handed crackdown by authorities on Cambodians’ right to free expression and assembly.

This morning, three activists were detained outside Caltex Bokor petrol station in Phnom Penh – the location of Kem Ley’s murder on July 10, 2016 – after they joined other youth activists, union leaders and civil society members to mark the anniversary. The detainees included environmental activists Chum Hout and Chum Hour.

Statement
Cambodia: Three Years And Still No Effective Investigation Into Dr. Kem Ley’s Killing

July 9, 2019audio available

Today, on the third anniversary of the killing of prominent political commentator and human rights defender Kem Ley, the 24 undersigned organizations renew calls on the Cambodian government to establish an independent and impartial Commission of Inquiry to conduct a thorough and effective investigation into his killing. On 10 July 2016, Kem Ley was shot and killed while having a morning coffee at a gas station located on Monivong Boulevard in central Phnom Penh. This killing occurred amidst a backdrop of attacks on human rights defenders and members of the political opposition, and a documented history of killings of human rights defenders with impunity in Cambodia.

Statement
Occupational Health and Safety for Construction Workers and Safe Building Standards Must Be Guaranteed

July 2, 2019audio available

We, as workers, communities, associations, trade unions, civil society organisations and human rights defenders working for the promotion of human and labour rights in Cambodia, extend our heartfelt condolences to the families of those who lost loved ones in the tragic deadly collapse of an under-construction seven-storey building in Village 3, Sangkat 4, Sihanoukville Province on 22 June 2019 at 4:00 a.m. We are grateful to the mixed rescue team for their persistent efforts to locate victims during the critical sixty hours of searching. As of 27 June 2019, at least 28 construction workers were confirmed dead, including five women and rescue teams had pulled out another 26 injured. Amongst the injured were two 16-year-olds, a girl and a boy. All victims are now at Preah Sihanouk Referral Hospital. The victims were migrant workers from other Cambodian provinces.

Statement
On World Day Against Child Labour, LICADHO calls for the government to enforce existing child labour laws

June 12, 2019audio available

Today, LICADHO marked World Day Against Child Labour by organising community events in two brick factories in Kandal province: Tboung Pich in Mukh Kampul district and Kheng Hok in Ksach Kandal district. Around 200 people attended the events, including brick factory owners, workers, and children. The events sought to raise awareness in the brick production sector about the criminality and consequences of employing child labour and debt bondage, and the importance of prioritising workplace safety. The events were organised at the two brick factories to ensure that both factory owners and their employees were brought together to have a better understanding of the risks of employing child labour and the use of debt-bonded labour. Presentations were made and leaflets were handed out to the owners and workers about the legal provisions in the Labour Law and Cambodia’s commitments to the International Labour Organisation’s Convention 182 to stop the worst forms of child labour.

Statement CSOs express serious concern and call for a stop to the ongoing judicial harassment of former Cambodia National Rescue Party members

June 1, 2019audio available

We, the undersigned civil society groups, express serious concern regarding the recent and ongoing judicial harassment of former Cambodia National Rescue Party (“CNRP”) elected officials and members through baseless arrests, summonses, and detentions across multiple provinces. We urge the Royal Government of Cambodia to immediately cease the harassment of members of the political opposition and instead take concrete measures to restore civic space and enable all individuals to exercise their rights to free expression, association, assembly and political participation.

Photo Album
International Labour Day 2019

May 1, 2019

More than 2,000 people in at least five provinces across the country marked International Labour Day over the last week, often in the presence of security forces. In Phnom Penh, around 500 mixed security forces were deployed, and workers and civil society members gathered at both Freedom Park and the Council for the Development of Cambodia. Municipal authorities stopped workers from marching to the National Assembly and instead allowed for a limited march around Wat Phnom in the presence of security officials.

Statement
Incarcerated Mothers and Pregnant Women: LICADHO Calls for Urgent Action

April 8, 2019audio available

On 18 February 2019, Prime Minister Hun Sen urged the Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Women’s Affairs to review the situation of women detainees in pre-trial detention. Through a speech and a post on his official Facebook account, the prime minister said women detainees face many challenges, such as having children living outside of prisons with no support and being abandoned by their husbands. LICADHO agrees with prime minister’s call for urgent action to address the needs of women in prison, specifically the situation of vulnerable populations – mothers with children and pregnant women in prison. This issue should be resolved through the use of existing legal measures, such as prioritising trials for women in pre-trial detention and expediting the processing of bail applications.

Article
Preah Vihear community representative missing for two months

March 21, 2019audio available

Today marks two months since Preah Vihear community representative Sum Meun disappeared after he was beaten and illegally arrested by armed military officials. The disappearance was part of a slew of arrests made over two weeks in January of villagers entangled in a conflict with a land concession granted to Metrei Pheap Kase-Ousahakam Co. Ltd. The company has links to tycoon An Mady.

The 54-year-old Meun and his son, Meun Mean, were arrested on January 20 by military soldiers from Battalion 261 under RCAF Intervention Brigade 6 - acting as security guards for the concession holder in Choam Khsant district’s Yeang commune. Witnesses reported that Meun was beaten following his arrest. The pair was then transferred to the Koulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary Headquarters where they were both detained overnight.

Video
Celebrating Cambodia's Women Activists

March 8, 2019audio available

Women activists continue to lead the struggle for human and environmental rights in Cambodia. To celebrate International Women's Rights Day, take a moment and listen to four Cambodian women describe their experiences as land, labour and environmental activists.

Photo Album
International Women Day 2019

March 8, 2019

About one thousand people across at least five provinces and Phnom Penh gathered to celebrate International Women's Day this morning. Mixed security forces physically blocked about 500 participants in Phnom Penh as they attempted to march from Olympic Stadium to submit a petition to the Council of Ministers, and authorities at one point forcibly pushed several women into the stadium grounds before closing the gate and locking them inside. Authorities attempted to prohibit community-led events in Tbong Khmum and Kampong Speu provinces, but participants went on to hold the events without major issues. Many celebrations around the country were held in the presence of security forces.

Video
Human Rights 2018: The Year in Review

February 12, 2019audio available

Cambodia's human rights situation continued to deteriorate in 2018, with the ongoing closure of democratic and civil society space as well as the silencing of government critics and independent media.

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