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16 Feb 2022

UN human rights experts

Cambodia: UN human rights experts criticise govt. of unjustified COVID-19 measures against union members and strikers in a labour dispute

"Cambodia: Stifling new measures against striking workers are ‘unjustified’ – UN human rights experts", 16 February 2022

UN human rights experts … criticised an ongoing COVID-19 quarantine imposed on striking casino workers in Cambodia, saying authorities must not disguise a crackdown on peaceful and lawful labour action as a public health response.

“There is a general inconsistency and lack of transparency in Cambodia’s COVID-19 protocols,” the experts said. “In this case, authorities appear to have dressed up efforts to stifle peaceful and lawful labour action as public health measures. There cannot be one rule for striking workers and another rule entirely for the general public.”

…, Cambodian authorities prevented several hundred strikers from moving to the strike site and ordered they board buses to be taken for compulsory COVID-19 tests at a makeshift testing site. Many strikers are currently awaiting the results of second tests even after receiving negative first tests; authorities have instructed even those who return negative PCR tests to remain in self-isolation for a further seven days.

“This breaks the continuity of a strike that has been conducted lawfully. More worryingly these sluggish test results and the general approach shows the lengths that authorities may be willing to go to in order to thwart the rights to freedom of association, expression and assembly,” they said.

… They said the government has a duty under a number of ratified treaties and conventions to protect the human rights of the striking workers. Furthermore, Cambodia is obliged to respect the right to freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly, and the right to form and join trade unions in line with ASEAN Human Rights Declaration and related instruments…