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Cambodia: Arrest, detention & prosecution of 23 activists involved in January 2014 protest of garment workers

After a violent crackdown of garment worker protesters in January 2014, 23 people – including workers and union leaders – were arrested and detained. Reports related to their arrest, detention, prosecution and eventual conviction and release are linked below.

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Article
30 September 2014

Cambodia: Report finds serious violations of fair trial rights of 23 protesters charged in line with Jan 2014 garment worker protests

Author: International Senior Lawyers Project

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Article
30 May 2014

Cambodia Court Convicts, Releases Labor Activists

Author: Robert Carmichael, Voice of America

A Cambodian court…convicted 23 garment workers and unionists who were arrested during violent protests in January - and then suspended their sentences and released them…“[I]t is not justice at all for them to get convicted because those people did nothing wrong - just only demand wage for their stomach…." stated Moeun Tola [of Community Legal Education Center]. "So even [though] we welcome the release of the 23, but we also condemn the charge against them.“…[A] delegation of representatives from international brands including H&M, Puma and The Gap told senior government officials that unless conditions for the sector’s 600,000 workers improved, they would look to source elsewhere…[T]he brands said, the government must also act: it must stop using violence and the courts against workers and unionists, it must implement a proper wage-setting program, and it must ensure that, should the court lock up the defendants in the current case, the evidence meets international standards…

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Article
25 April 2014

Trial begins in Phnom Penh for Cambodian workers seeking better wages

Author: Deutsche Welle (Germany)

Twenty-three Cambodian activists and workers arrested during a deadly crackdown on a garment industry strike…went on trial…despite international appeals for their release. During the protests in January…police opened fire on textile workers calling for a monthly minimum wage of $160 (115 euros), killing at least four civilians...[The] 23 defendants - most detained for months now without bail - could face up to five years' imprisonment on charges including committing intentional violence…Cambodia's garment manufacturing sector makes up an important part of the country's economy, producing clothes for big-name international brands including Nike, H&M and Gap, with workers earning notoriously low wages…The International Trade Union Confederation has launched a campaign to "Free the 23," urging workers to lobby Cambodian embassies around the world. In Phnom Penh…hundreds of supporters gathered holding signs demanding the release of the prisoners…

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Article
24 April 2014

Cambodia: End the prosecution of 23 workers and human rights defenders

Author: Fédération internationale des ligues des droits de l'Homme (FIDH)

The Cambodian government must drop all charges on the 23 garment workers and human rights defenders arrested during the 2-3 January brutal suppression of demonstrators in Phnom Penh which resulted in at least four people killed and dozens injured, FIDH and its member organizations…said…Cambodia’s judiciary must end this baseless prosecution of garment workers and human rights defenders who have been severely beaten, arbitrarily arrested, and detained for several months for peacefully demonstrating to demand an adequate minimum wage…At least one of those detained is in need of urgent medical treatment. Despite suffering from serious kidney ailments, Vorn Pov was denied bail on four occasions…FIDH, ADHOC, and LICADHO also call on the Cambodian authorities to thoroughly investigate the disappearance of Khem Sophath, a 16-year-old boy who has been missing since the 3 January violence…

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Article
11 February 2014

Bail denied for 21 detainees [Cambodia]

Author: Sean Teehan & May Titthara, Phnom Penh Post (Cambodia)

Defence attorneys will now turn to the Supreme Court after a Court of Appeals judge denied bail…for all 21 people still detained from clashes with authorities during garment strike demonstrations...The presiding judge said he decided not to allow bail based on speculation that the detainees’ release would “disturb public order”, Sam Sokung, a defence attorney representing six of the defendants…[E]ight union groups will meet to discuss how to go about reigniting the strike, [said Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union – the largest union behind the strike]…

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Article
11 February 2014

[PDF] Today’s bail denial for 21 human rights defenders and protesters illustrates the deteriorating human rights situation in Cambodia

Author: Cambodia Center for Human Rights

The Cambodian Center for Human Rights (“CCHR”) condemns today’s decision by the Court of Appeal to deny bail to 21…human rights defenders, activists and protestors arrested during demonstrations in early January… The Court of Appeal’s decision to deny bail was made without the defendants attending the hearing and despite serious concerns for the health of several of them…CCHR President Ou Virak comments: “…This decision is a further attack on freedom of assembly and expression in Cambodia, where the message has already been made clear that people are not allowed to speak out for their rights.”

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Article
23 January 2014

Cambodia: detention of labour activists unjustified

Author: International Commission of Jurists

The ICJ criticized the Phnom Penh Municipal Court’s decision to deny bail to 23 people who were arrested and detained earlier this month following protests by garment factory workers seeking a higher minimum wage…“International law is clear that pre-trial detention could only be exercised in exceptional situations, and avoided if suitable alternatives are possible,” said Sam Zarifi, ICJ’s Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific. “The reasons presented by the Court don’t justify holding these activists in prison right now.”…

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Article
9 January 2014

Cambodia: Detainees in Crackdown Denied Rights

Author: Human Rights Watch

…Cambodian authorities should protect the rights of 23 people arrested after a violent crackdown by security forces on striking garment workers in Phnom Penh…Human Rights Watch said…Authorities detained the group incommunicado and without medical care at the remote CC3 prison at Trapeang Phlong in Kampong Cham province near the border with Vietnam…All those detained should have immediate access to counsel of their choosing, necessary medical care, and visits from family members. Those held for their nonviolent political or social activism should be immediately and unconditionally released…

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Article
9 January 2014

Twenty-Three Arrested Protesters Held in Kompong Cham Prison [Cambodia]

Author: Kuch Naren, Cambodia Daily

After refusing for days to disclose the location of 23 protesters arrested last week and then charged in court, prison officials revealed…that the group is being held in a notorious jail in Kompong Cham province…The group includes union leaders, activists and striking workers, who have been charged at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court with the intentional destruction of property and intentional violence under aggravating circumstances… Licadho and the Community Legal Education Center described the CC3 facility as “among the harshest prisons in Cambodia.”…Am Sam Ath, technical supervisor with Licadho, said that medical teams from his organization had visited the CC3 prison Wednesday and met with the prisoners. Each member of the group had been beaten both before and after their arrest, he said…

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