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21 Feb 2023

Khuon Narim & Sovann Sreypich, CamboJA

Cambodia: Phnom Penh Court hear incitement charges against NagaWorld union leaders; union's president remains in detention

"Incitement Trial Begins for NagaWorld Union Leader and Eight Strikers", 21 February 2023

NagaWorld union leader Chhim Sithar and eight co-defendants appeared for their first day of trial in Phnom Penh Municipal Court ... Sithar and all her colleagues, except for one, denied the incitement charges against them…

Over … hearing, Presiding judge Soeung Chakriya focused on questioning Sithar about the union’s funding, …

Sithar acknowledged she had requested and received funds to support the union’s activities from three international donors: U.S.-based non-profit East West Management Institute (EWMI), feminist NGO JASS and North American union Unite Here

“I made proposals for receiving funds to support the union’s operations and humanitarian funds in helping members during COVID-19, and layoff jobs,” Sithar said.

Deputy prosecutor Seng Heang said that Sithar had led the illegal protest without permission from Phnom Penh municipal authorities and that international funds support the union’s illegal activities.

… She said the strike was peaceful, legal and protected by the Cambodian constitution’s right to freedom expression.

… Sithar, …, has stated the union has followed all legal protocol for the strike. The union has said it only launched a strike after all viable efforts at mediation were exhausted.

… President of Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions Yang Sophorn attended the trial and said she believed LRSU members had legitimate reasons and legal cause to strike but this was ignored by the court…

“I think that the incitement charge was exaggerated because Sithar has tried to explain the root cause of striking and workers’ demands that they have a right to disagree with the employer,” Sophorn added.