Latest Flash News & Articles

Flash News: The Constitutional Council declares three laws on the judiciary compatible with the constitution.
Published on July 4, 2014

Today the Constitutional Council declared that three new laws on the judiciary, the Law on the Organization of the Courts, the Law on the Organization and Functioning of the Supreme Council of Magistracy, and the Statute of Judges and Prosecutors, are consistent with the Cambodian constitution and can therefore be promulgated, following approval by the King.

In a statement released last month, LICADHO urged the Constitutional Council to reject the laws as they are currently drafted on the grounds that they do not comply with the constitution: whilst the constitution protects the independence of the judiciary, the three laws will improperly legitimize and entrench government control over the courts and judges.

The laws were approved earlier this year by the National Assembly and the Senate. No public consultations were carried out on the draft laws and as a result of the almost year-long boycott of the National Assembly by opposition party members, they have been subjected to no proper legislative scrutiny.

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Flash News: UN Special Rapporteur Visits Victims of Land Grabbing in Koh Kong and Preah Sihanouk
Published on June 21, 2014

This morning, Surya P. Subedi, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights in Cambodia, visited and held discussions with land grab victims in Chikhor Leu village, Sre Ambel District, Koh Kong province. The land overlapped with an economic land concession given over to the production of sugar which was linked to ruling-party senator Ly Yong Phat.

In the afternoon, Subedi also visited Spean Ches community, Village 6, in Preah Sihanouk province. Some residents of this community were among the over 100 families violently evicted on April 20, 2007 from a plot of land 500 meters away in Commune 4, Mittapheap District, Sihanoukville, by 150 armed forces including military. Subedi held discussions with community members before meeting with the provincial governor.

Subedi’s visit throws light on long-standing land grabbing cases that remain unresolved. In both cases, the state-involved land grabs happened over half a decade ago.

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Flash News: Freedom for activists and workers
Published on May 30, 2014

Today the ‘FreeThe23’ and ‘Stung Meanchey-two’ are finally free men.

The 22 who had remained in prison were released just after 11am today and marched back to Phnom Penh together with around 500 of their supporters. They will now be reunited with their families.

Those who had not been released on bail spent more than 140 days in detention in CC3 and CC1 prisons. Their highly contested trials took place at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court over five non-consecutive days in April and May.

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Flash News: FreeThe23 and Stung Meanchey verdicts: all convicted with sentences suspended
Published on May 30, 2014

This morning, the 25 arrested on January 2 and 3, and November 12, were convicted of a variety of charges with sentences of differing lengths but all sentences were suspended. Vorn Pao (President of Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association) was sentenced to 4.5 years, Theng Savoeun (Coordinator of Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Community) 4 years, Chan Puthisak (community leader from Boeung Kak Lake) 4.5 years, and Sokun Sambath Piseth (staff member at Center for Labor Rights of Cambodia) 4.5 years. Lawyers are currently working to secure their release as soon as possible.

The trials at Phnom Penh Municipal Court started on April 25 and took place over five non-consecutive days with the case of the 10 men arrested at the Yak Jin factory finally coming to an end just after 8pm on May 22. On all the trial days supporters of the 25 were prevented from gathering in front of the court by roadblocks and a heavy police presence.

The 25 were all arrested during violent suppression of worker protests by the authorities. As of today, no member of the police or armed forces has been prosecuted for the use of live ammunition against unarmed civilians, which resulted in at least four deaths and the hospitalization of 38 on January 2-3 2014, and one death and the hospitalization of 9 on November 12, 2013.

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Flash News: Factory workers show support for arrested unionists
Published on May 24, 2014

Today, hundreds of workers gathered in Takeo’s provincial town to show their support for eight union leaders and union members who were arrested yesterday afternoon during a garment factory strike at the JSD Textile (Cambodia) Co. Ltd factory. The strikers were seeking a minimum wage of $160 and improved working conditions. Armed security forces have blocked the way to the court with barbed wire and to the provincial police station, where the arrested unionists are being held.

The eight unionists include six union leaders from the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers' Democratic Union (CCAWDU) and two CCAWDU staff, who came to assist the striking workers. As of now those arrested are being held at the provincial police station in Takeo’s provincial town where lawyers, unions and NGOs have been denied access to them.

Flash News: Injured garment worker beaten during January's clampdown died early this morning from unknown causes
Published on May 17, 2014

This morning at 3.15 am, Moun Sokmean, a 29 year old man who suffered from serious injuries on January 3, died whilst on his way to hospital. The day of the clampdown on garment workers on Veng Sreng Road, he was hospitalized after receiving trauma to his body, head, and face.

Yesterday evening his family found that he was restless and incoherent so they took him to hospital but he died on the way.

The lethal clampdown by mixed security forces, which started on January 2, 2014, resulted in the deaths of at least four people, dozens injured, and the arrests of 23 workers and human rights defenders. One boy, Khem Sophath, was last seen on the morning of January 3, 2014 lying on the ground on Veng Sreng Road with blood pouring from what appeared to be a gunshot wound to his chest. His whereabouts remain unknown.

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Flash News: Caltex workers strike to demand $160 minimum wage
Published on May 12, 2014

This morning starting at 7:00 am, more than 200 workers at 17 Caltex gas stations in Phnom Penh began a strike demanding a monthly wage of at least $160 and other staff benefits. Most Caltex workers currently earn $110/month. Workers plan to continue the strike until their demands are met.

This strike follows broader labor protests in late 2013, when garment workers began to demand a minimum wage of $160/month. In early January 2014, the government violently suppressed labor protests, resulting in at least four deaths, 38 people hospitalized, and 23 rights defenders and workers arrested.

Despite state clampdowns, workers and unions continue to demand wage increases. On February 6, workers at CINTRI successfully negotiated salary raises after going several days on strike: the salaries of trash collectors increased from $65 to $90, while salaries of garbage truck drivers on night shifts increased from $120 to $140. Similarly, on May 11, workers from Angkor Beer/Cambrew completed a two-day strike that led to an increase of their salary from $120/month to $150/month.

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Flash News: Supreme Court denies bail to 21 rights defenders and workers
Published on May 9, 2014

This morning, the Supreme Court announced that it will uphold the decision of the Court of Appeal on February 11, 2014 to deny bail requests for 21 of 23 human rights defenders and workers arrested in early January. None of the 21 defendants were transferred to court for the bail decision.

The Supreme Court provided two reasons for denying bail to the 21: first, the investigation into the cases has already been closed by the investigating judge; and second, the trials are already in progress so defendants should remain in detention to ensure their attendance.

Article 307 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, however, permits defendants to apply for bail release during their trial after investigations have already been closed by the investigating judge.

Families of the 21 detained men and land community activists gathered outside the court to show their support. The trial for all 23 men arrested during labor protests in January will continue on May 20 after authorities adjourned proceedings on April 25 and May 6.

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Flash News: CNRP supporters defy assembly ban with large campaign rally
Published on May 2, 2014

Today, thousands of Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) supporters marched across Phnom Penh to mark the start of the campaign for municipal, provincial, city and district council elections. At least five people were injured by security guards, including CNRP supporters, one monk and one journalist, as they waited for the march to arrive at Freedom Park. The journalist was taken to a hospital while LICADHO doctors treated the other injured civilians, including one man who required three stiches.

The march began at the CNRP headquarters mid-afternoon and proceeded along major boulevards across Phnom Penh for about three hours, before arriving in front of the Royal Palace where CNRP leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha addressed supporters. Before leaving the site, they announced that the rally would continue tomorrow.

Phnom Penh has seen a massive security build-up since April 30, when security forces barricaded Freedom Park. Today, the barricade extended to cover Norodom's dragon bridge and Wat Phnom, where hundreds of police armed with tear gas launchers and security guards were stationed. Military police were also positioned next to the Prime Minister’s house and at the Supreme Court nearby the palace.

Flash News: Supreme Court postpones bail decision for remaining 21 of 23 HRDs and workers to May 9
Published on May 2, 2014

This morning the Supreme Court announced that it will not decide whether to release on bail 21 of the 23 rights defenders and workers arrested during labor protests in January until 8:00am on May 9.

On May 6, the trials of all 23 men arrested in January, along with two others arrested in November 2013, will resume at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court after judges abruptly delayed proceedings on April 25.

The 21 were previously denied bail by the Phnom Penh Appeal Court on February 11, 2014. Outside the court today, more than 60 monks, land activists, and NGOs gathered to show support. The 21 were not present for the hearing, and remain in CC1 prison.

Flash News: Authorities establish large barricades at Freedom Park denying access ahead of Workers’ Day and election campaign
Published on April 30, 2014

This morning, razor wire, caged trucks and fences were set up to prevent people from accessing Freedom Park for tomorrow’s International Workers’ Day events and during the election campaign which starts on 2nd May. Also this morning, Mu Sochua, CNRP law-maker elect, together with 150 supporters and representatives from land communities tried yet again to enter the park. Sam Rainsy, CNRP leader, made a quick visit to Freedom Park before going to Wat Phnom, and then returning to the barricaded park to give a short speech. Between 400-500 police were stationed at Freedom Park to prevent people from entering.

Sochua’s scheduled attempt to enter Freedom Park was publicly announced on Monday. When Sochua and her supporters were blocked from entering the park, they placed lotus flowers on the razor wire and burned incense.

Flash News: Ceremonies take place to mark two year anniversary of the murder of Chut Wutty
Published on April 26, 2014

Today, groups in Koh Kong and Phnom Penh conducted ceremonies to commemorate assassinated environmental activist Chut Wutty. This day marks two years since Wutty was shot dead whilst accompanying two Cambodia Daily journalists on an investigation into illegal logging in the protected forest of the Cardamom Mountains, Koh Kong.

More than 20 youths and 15 monks assembled at Preah Ang Dongker, Phnom Penh, to pray for Wutty, and to appeal to the government to put an end to illegal logging and to bring to justice those responsible for Wutty’s death. Security guards were present, although no violence occurred. In Koh Kong, where Wutty was murdered, approximately 95 youths, rural community members and monks, including Venerable Sovath, gathered to commemorate his life.

Military police officer In Rattana, who was shot on the same day as Wutty, was blamed for the killing following a highly flawed investigation.

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Flash News: Remaining “Free the 23” detainees moved to Phnom Penh in preparation for Friday hearing
Published on April 23, 2014

Early this morning, the 21 men detained in Kampong Cham province’s CC3 prison since their arrest during January’s widespread strikes were moved to Phnom Penh and will spend the next two nights in CC1 prison. The government’s clampdown left at least four people dead.

The 21, plus two others who were earlier granted bail, will be tried on Friday, April 25, at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court in three separate trials. On the same day, a fourth trial will be held for two men arrested during unrest that followed the SL garment factory strike last November during which one street vendor was killed. One of the two is currently detained in CC1 prison whilst the other was previously released on bail.

LICADHO will be live streaming all four trials on Friday, and coverage will begin tomorrow afternoon.

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Flash News: The new year brings renewed violence at Freedom Park
Published on April 21, 2014

This morning, security guards attacked Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) youths, local and foreign journalists, and NGO workers, as they gathered for Mu Sochua's latest attempt to enter Freedom Park. LICADHO provided medical treatment to seven people following the unprovoked assault. Two had open wounds which required stitches and one had a severely bloodied ear. Mu Sochua herself was carried from the park by security guards and received minor injuries.

This is elected CNRP law-maker Mu Sochua's sixth attempt to enter the park since the Phnom Penh municipality banned public gatherings in early January. Her previous attempts have also been brought to a swift end by security forces. She is conducting the protests to draw attention to the lack of freedom of expression in the country.

Flash News: Attack on homes further highlights urgency for lasting remedies
Published on April 6, 2014

This morning, two houses were partially destroyed in Boeung Kak Muoy Commune, Toul Kork District, Phnom Penh. Ly Srea Keng, whose house was attacked, has been involved in a longstanding dispute with Khun Sea Company and has suffered a number of previous attacks against him including physical assault and attempted arson. Some people were injured during the violence and were sent for medical treatment.

LICADHO highlighted this case last week in a statement that marked a renewed upswing in violent land grabs since the start of 2014. Today's action is further evidence that the Cambodian government is failing to address the ongoing land crisis in Cambodia.

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