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13 May 2021

Amnesty International

Cambodia: Amnesty International condemns 'outrageous' conviction of five environmental activists, two of whom in absentia

'Cambodia: "Outrageous" conviction of five environmental activists must be overturned', 6 May 2021

Responding to reports that the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday convicted and sentenced five environmental activists, Emerlynne Gil, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Research said:

“This outrageous conviction is a blatant attempt to silence these young human rights defenders in retaliation for their peaceful work to protect Cambodia’s natural resources. This clearly violates the activists’ right to freedom of expression and constitutes an attack on all human rights defenders in Cambodia. 

... Three of the activists convicted - Long Kunthea (22), Phoung Keorasmey (19), and Thun Ratha (29) - have been held in pre-trial detention since their arbitrary arrest in September 2020. They were sentenced to between 18 and 20 months in prison for seeking to protest government plans to fill and privatize a major lake in the capital, Phnom Penh. All three are recognized as prisoners of conscience by Amnesty International. The three, whom are all affiliated with environmental group Mother Nature Cambodia, were arrested soon after publicly announcing a plan to undertake a two-person march to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house to express concerns regarding plans to privatize and develop Boeung Tamok lake, Phnom Penh’s largest remaining lake...

Two more activists were convicted in the same case and sentenced in absentia under the same charges, with warrants issued for their arrest. Alejandro Gonzalez-Davidson, a Spanish national and a co-founder of Mother Nature Cambodia, was sentenced to 20 months in prison, while Chea Kunthin, a member of activist group Khmer Thavarak, was sentenced to 18 months. Both were also fined 4 million riel each. Gonzalez-Davidson was deported from Cambodia in 2015 and has been refused re-entry since then...