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4 Jul 2024

LICADHO & 52 Others

Cambodia: 53 CSOs call on govt. to release recently convicted environmental rights defenders and cease harassment against HRDs

BHRRC Cambodia

"Conviction of Mother Nature Activists is a National Shame", 4 July 2024

The Phnom Penh Capital Court’s conviction and sentencing of 10 Mother Nature activists to 6-8 years in prison, and the arrest of five of them …, is a shame for our nation. Silencing environmental defenders and characterising their peaceful advocacy as a threat to the state is a mockery of justice.

It is well past time for authorities to listen to and work with youth and environmental activists. Stop spending resources harassing, threatening and prosecuting the brave and passionate young people who are working to protect Cambodia’s most precious natural resources.

Four activists … were gathered alongside supporters and family outside the court as the verdict was read out. A group of at least 50 police rapidly swarmed them, violently dragging and shoving them into waiting cars. At least two of them were dragged by their necks. At no point did the four activists resist arrest... The violent and aggressive manner of their arrests is unacceptable…

The government’s unjust decision to arbitrarily scatter the five activists to different prisons across the country, far from their homes, will only add to the suffering faced by the activists and their families… This unprecedented move, so transparently aimed at breaking the spirits of the activists, also places a heavy burden on their families who will have to travel hundreds of kilometres to visit their loved ones or provide essential materials in under-resourced prisons.

… We, the undersigned, call on the authorities to immediately overturn all convictions against the Mother Nature activists, ensure their release without conditions, and stop the relentless persecution of environmental and human rights activists in the country.