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15 Feb 2022

Human Rights Watch

Cambodia: Human Rights Watch claim authorities use COVID-19 measures to restrict freedoms and rights of Naga World's employees and union members

"Cambodia: Covid-19 Used to Justify Crackdown on Union", 15 February 2022

The Cambodian authorities should immediately stop abusing public health measures to repress workers’ right to strike and other basic rights, Human Rights Watch said ...

Since the Labor Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees of NagaWorld (LRSU) went on strike … to call for the reinstatement of workers laid off earlier …, Cambodian authorities have arbitrarily arrested, detained, and prosecuted union activists. Most recently, the authorities have sought to justify these criminal charges as Covid-19-related measures.., the police arrested six union members at Phnom Penh’s NagaWorld casino as they left a Covid-19 testing site and baselessly charged three of them with obstructing the government’s Covid-19 efforts.

“The Cambodian authorities are stooping to new lows by bringing criminal charges in the guise of public health measures to end a strike,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The government’s persecution of union activists appears aimed at blunting the growing unity and strength of Cambodia’s union movement and their support for the NagaWorld strikers.”

…, over 400 protesting workers appeared as ordered at the designated testing site on Phnom Penh’s Diamond Island (Koh Pich). Since the strike began, protesters have protected themselves and others by wearing masks and maintaining social distancing…

Cambodia is bound by Convention No. 87 of the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which protects the right to strike. The ILO tripartite Committee on Freedom of Association held that prohibitions of strikes during a national emergency, such as the Covid-19 public health crisis, should be limited in time, strictly necessary, and proportionate…