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Cambodia: PM announces free legal aid for garment workers; labour rights groups urge authorities to respect labour rights and union's fundamental freedoms

Author: Savi Khorn, The Phnom Penh Post, Published on: 21 February 2019

"Prime Minister Hun Sen announces free legal aid for garment workers", 21 February 2019 

Prime Minister Hun Sen announced … that factory workers will have access to legal representation free of charge once his volunteer group of his lawyers is established, while civil society groups say the government should instead improve labour law enforcement…

“I have already officially decided. Now I have 2,000 million riel or $500,000 in my hand to finance the work of my lawyers. But I am asking Ky Tech, the head of the government’s lawyers, to help me in preparing [the group]. This is not from the state budget. It is a budget I raised to establish a group of lawyers to defend poor clients,” he said…

National Union Alliance Chamber of Cambodia president Som Aun said he supported the move, believing that poor women, especially female garment workers, would now have qualified defence lawyers to help them if they found themselves in court…

Centre for Alliance of Labour and Human Rights (Central) executive director Moeun Tola praised the positive intentions in creating the lawyers’ group but wanted the government, through the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training, to provide unions with the freedom to operate and have other related rights as stated in the Labour Law…

Ministry’s spokesman Heng Sour could not be reached for comment.

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