Land IssuesReport Human Rights 2012, The Year in Review
February 18, 2013
The human rights situation in Cambodia began 2012 teetering on the edge of a precipice, and by the end of the year had fallen off the cliff, according to a new report from LICADHO.
The past year was the most violent year ever documented in terms of the authorities using lethal force against activists, according to the report, “Human Rights 2012: The Year in Review.” The year also saw four deaths related to conflicts over natural resources, a growing atmosphere of fear and intimidation and the mass arrests of activists.
February 12, 2013
The human rights situation in Cambodia began 2012 teetering on the edge of a precipice, and by the end of the year had fallen off the cliff.
The sheer volume of shocking turns makes it difficult to choose where to begin a summary of 2012: Independent radio station owner Mam Sonando was sentenced to 20 years in prison on politically-motivated charges. The country’s most prominent environmental activist was shot dead in the forest while investigating illegal logging. A journalist working on logging issues was murdered in Ratanakiri province. A town governor opened fire on protesting garment workers and has yet to spend a day in prison. And 17 leaders from Phnom Penh communities facing eviction spent time in prison.
December 27, 2012
The Phnom Penh Municipal Court convicted Yorm Bopha on a trumped up charge and sentenced her to three years’ imprisonment. The charges against her and three other defendants were purportedly in connection with the beating of a suspected thief, but the real case against her is crystal clear – she, and the rest of the Boeung Kak community land activists are thorns in the side of the authorities, and they need to be silenced.
December 20, 2012
At 2 p.m. on December 26, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court will hold trials for two human rights defenders involved in high-profile land disputes: Yorm Bopha, from the Boeung Kak community, and Tim Sakmony, from Borei Keila. The women have been in prison for over 100 days, and were recently designated Prisoners of Conscience by Amnesty International.
In anticipation of the trial, the Free the 15 coalition has produced short biographies of each woman, which detail their personal stories and their legal battles.
December 19, 2012
From December 8th to December 17th, more than 42,000 Cambodians across the country celebrated "International Human Rights Day". Events were held to highlight land, labor, and human rights with the unifying slogan "We All Need Justice & Freedom!". The final event took place in Phnom Penh the morning of December 17th, when organizers & volunteers danced to a land-rights themed rendition of "Gangnam-style" in front of the National Assembly wearing t shirts which had been endorsed by over 11, 000 Cambodians. Participants also presented over 40,000 signatures calling for an end to evictions in Cambodia coordinated by Amnesty International volunteers living in France, Germany, New Zealand & South Korea.
December 9, 2012
The climate for human rights defenders (HRDs) in Cambodia has soured dramatically since LICADHO's last HRD report in 2009, creating the country's worst human rights environment in more than a decade. Violence against activists is on the rise, key HRDs have been killed with impunity, and the courts have lost even the faintest semblance of impartiality.
The year 2012 has been particularly bad.
November 15, 2012
We, the undersigned civil society organizations, condemn the arrest today of eight residents from an airport-area community after they painted the letters “SOS” on their rooftops in an apparent plea to United States President Barack Obama, who arrives in Phnom Penh next week for the 21st ASEAN Summit and 7th East Asia Summit.
September 6, 2012
In the past three days, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court has ordered the unjustified pre-trial detention of two female land rights advocates in unrelated cases. These two incidents are the latest in a long string of incidents in which the courts have been wielded as a weapon to silence victimized communities.
The two arrested activists have long been struggling to advocate on behalf of powerless residents involved in land disputes with some of Cambodia’s most well-connected and powerful business tycoons.
July 23, 2012
Late last year, the Cambodian government quietly released a draft Law on the Management and Use of Agricultural Land that would have serious implications for private landholders. The draft law as currently written could be used as legal cover for land-grabbing and for those who wish to exploit and personally profit from Cambodia's land and resources. Most alarmingly, the law creates felony criminal liability for any actions that violate the law's far reaching provisions. The following aspects of the draft law require immediate scrutiny and substantial revisions.
July 22, 2012
This documentary takes a look at the recent campaign to free the 15 imprisoned Boeung Kak lake activists. The fifteen were arrested in late May 2012 during and after a peaceful protest highlighting a long-standing land dispute with Shukaku Inc. company, owned by a Cambodian ruling party senator.
One of the released activists presented this video at the fifth annual Summer Institute in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights in Singapore in July 2012.
July 2, 2012
Outside the Lines, a new report by local urban NGO Sahmakum Teang Tnaut (STT), proposes a viable and practical solution for the households excluded from the 12.44Ha concession in Boeung Kak. The report shows that the households arbitrarily excluded from the 12.44Ha concession could easily be included in the concession zone, by allowing some households to move inside the area as well as through a small revision of the concession’s boundaries.
We, the undersigned groups, call on the Municipality of Phnom Penh and the Royal Government of Cambodia to heed the community’s calls to physically demarcate the boundaries of the 12.44Ha concession and to enter negotiations with the community to include the excluded households.
June 27, 2012
We, the above organizations, welcome the release today of the 13 jailed Boeung Kak (BK) representatives but strongly condemn police violence against BK residents trying to reach the appeal court and regret that the convictions against the 13 were upheld despite the government's failure, again, to present any evidence of the alleged crimes.
June 21, 2012
Focusing on the Boeung Kak lake and the Borei Keila cases, this video explores the impact of land grabbing on poor Cambodians and exposes the risks facing housing rights activists. It was shown at the UN Sustainable Development Conference in Rio in June 2012.
June 18, 2012
In May 2012, 15 activists from the Boeung Kak Lake community in Phnom Penh were arrested in relation to a land dispute that displaced thousands of families. Thirteen of them have been convicted and are now serving prison terms; the remaining two were released from pretrial detention on June 15 but still face charges. This photo album features photographs and biographies of each of the 15 activists.
May 31, 2012
On May 31, the children and grandchildren of "the Boeung Kak 15" - former residents of the Boeung Kak Lake community who have been jailed following a land dispute - gathered outside the Ministry of Justice to sing songs in support of their relatives.