Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Human Rights Defenders and Activists Under Fire in Cambodia

On 30 April 2013, ADHOC organized a press conference on threats to Human Rights Defenders and Activists. The following statement was issued on this occasion.
Human Rights Defenders and Activists Under Fire in Cambodia 

Phnom Penh, 30 April 2013 — The Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC) is gravely concerned at the increase in threats and intimidation of Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) and activists in the last three months. So far in 2013, 48 HRDs and activists have been threatened for their work relating to the protection of environmental and natural resources, according to ADHOC’s research. Activists working to counter illegal logging have been particularly targeted.
IMG_0095Those working to protect poorer Cambodians against rights abuses have repeatedly found themselves threatened and intimidated by the authorities, often at the bequest of rich and well-connected business figures. In 2012, ADHOC found that there were 238 HRDs facing judicial harassment. Thus far in 2013, there have been 46 new cases of judicial harassment of community activists and representatives. In addition, two ADHOC staff members are currently under investigation in an act of intimidation by local and provincial authorities.
Those threatened have not had any protection offered from the authorities. Rather, threats and intimidation have come from officials, including local, provincial and judicial authorities. This is in violation of Cambodia’s international obligations, including Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. HRDs and activists are also protected under domestic law, specifically under Articles 231-4 of the Penal Code.
Besides those who have faced threats this year, other activists have charges outstanding against them. They face charges such as destruction of private property, incitement, disinformation, defamation, and using violence.
It is clear that in many cases complaints made by HRDs to the local authorities regarding rights violations and encroachment on natural resources have been ignored and no measures have been taken to halt them when the abuses have been committed by the rich and powerful. Indeed, in many cases the relevant state institutions and local authorities have been complicit in the abuses made by private companies for their own individual benefit. They have systematically supported powerful parties’ claims over the victims’ interests.
ADHOC urges the Royal Government of Cambodia to respect human rights in the country and cooperate with HRDs and activists in their work to promote and protect these rights as recognized under national and international law.

For more information, please contact:
Mr. Ny Chakrya, Head of Human Rights and Legal Aid Program: 011 274 959
Mr. Latt Ky, Head of Land and Natural Resources Rights Program: 012 828 411
Mr. Nicolas Agostini, Technical Assistant: 078 405 024
Mr. Neil Loughlin, Technical Assistant: 092 648 318
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