Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Donors called on to pressure gov’t after unionists charged

Donors called on to pressure gov’t after unionists charged

Donors called on to pressure gov’t after unionists charged

An influential rights group is urging donors to Cambodia to apply pressure on the government concerning the case of six labour union leaders accused of playing an active role in violent demonstrations earlier this year.

In an open letter posted on its website on Wednesday, Human Rights Watch (HRW) says donors should tell the government to end efforts to prosecute leaders of unions behind a nationwide garment strike over wages that lasted from late December to early January. Soldiers shot dead at least five people during a demonstration on January 3, as protesters set fires and threw Molotov cocktails at authorities.

The six union leaders face charges of intentional violence.

“Cambodian authorities are pursuing trumped-up charges against labor activists in an apparent attempt to get them to abandon demands for better pay and conditions,” HRW Asia director Brad Adams says in the statement. “This is just the latest government effort to scare activists and the political opposition into dropping plans to use protests to advance their causes.”

The statement names those to be called for questioning as union presidents Pav Sina, Ath Thorn, Chea Mony, Rong Chhun, Morn Nhim and Yang Sophorn. A Phnom Penh Municipal Court clerk on Wednesday confirmed all but Nhim.

The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), representing more than 170 factories in the case, filed the suit in January.

With unions, the government and GMAC going through the process of setting next year’s minimum wage, Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union, said he thinks the summons coinciding with the wage negotiations is an intentional distraction.

“They are trying to use the court against us,” Thorn said.

GMAC secretary-general Ken Loo dismissed the notion of political motivations and said GMAC lawyers were looking into whether HRW’s call for pressuring the government amounts to obstruction.

“It’s quite stupid for HRW to be saying this,” Loo said. “They’re trying to get donors to pressure the government to drop the case – is that interfering with a case? That’s a chargeable offence.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Two luxury hotels latest quarantine options for inbound travellers

    The Inter-Ministerial Committee to Combat Covid-19 has designated two luxury hotels as alternative quarantine options for travellers who wish to enter Cambodia through Phnom Penh International Airport – Sokha Phnom Penh Hotel & Residence and the Courtyard by Marriott Phnom Penh. In a notice detailing guidelines issued

  • Visa A holders get to quarantine at Himawari Hotel

    The Ministry of Health has permitted foreign diplomats, UN and International NGO officials to undergo quarantine at Himawari Hotel in the capital in case they do not have a separate place suitable for this purpose, but the government would not be responsible for the expenses.

  • Baby saved as mother is lost to Covid

    Newborn baby Neth David has had a rough start in the world. His mother, Vong Daneth, was seven months pregnant when she contracted a severe case of Covid-19. When it became clear to her doctors that she would not survive, they performed a cesarean section

  • Jabs for kids bring hope for school reopenings

    Cambodia is tentatively planning to reopen schools – at least at the secondary level – when the vaccination of children aged 12-17 is completed, even though daily transmissions and deaths in other age groups remain high. Schools across the country have been suspended since March 20, one month

  • Governor: Covid subsides in capital

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng said the Covid-19 situation in the capital’s 14 districts has eased, with only two districts still recording a high number of infections. “Transmission cases in all districts are dropping, though they are relatively higher Meanchey and Por Sen Chey.

  • Hun Sen: Get 12-17 age group ready for Covid jabs

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has told parents of children aged 12-17 in Phnom Penh and the provinces of Kandal and Preah Sihanouk to get them ready for vaccinations soon. “There is a need to vaccinate children and youths aged 12 to 17. According to the statistics provided