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10 Dec 2021

Sorn Sarath & Chea Sokny, CamboJA

Cambodia: CSOs and human rights defenders call on govt. to restore human rights as they commemorate 73rd International Human Rights Day

"Rights defenders urge government to restore civil space", 10 December 2021

More than 200 rights advocates gathered … in Phnom Penh’s new Freedom Park to demand the government restore human rights and democracy in Cambodia, decrying what they said was increasing repression.

The occasion was the 73rd anniversary of International Human Rights Day, and the activists said there was little cause to celebrate.

Ny Sokha, president of local rights group Adhoc, said Cambodia’s human rights landscape had deteriorated over the past two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to growing numbers of rights violations.

“We are concerned about threats to the rights of expression, assembly and political participation,” he said. “We are also concerned about the continuous arrests and violence against activists and politicians, while authorities have yet to find their perpetrators or killers.”

The environmental activist Sun Ratha, a member of the group Mother Nature who was released from prison in early November after five months detainment due to her advocacy, said environmental activists are never encouraged by authorities but are instead banned and threatened.

“I urge the government to drop the charges against environmental activists as well as other activists who have exercised their rights, such as youth and land victims,” she said ...

Fellow environmental activist Chhoeun Daravy, of youth group Khmer Thavarak, who was also released from prison the same day as Ratha, said their rights work has led to many threats from the authorities.

“There are a lot of social issues, such as forestry and social injustices, that can discourage the spirit of young people who participate in areas of social concern,” she said…