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4 Jul 2024

Special Procedures of UN Human Rights Council

Cambodia: UN independent human rights experts express concerns over conviction of environmental rights defenders and urge govt. to take step to protect human rights

"Experts condemn conviction of environmental activists in Cambodia", 4 July 2024

The sentencing of 10 environmental activists in Cambodia points to a sustained pattern of intolerance towards human rights defenders engaged in legitimate work to protect and promote human rights in the country, a group of independent experts said ...

“We are alarmed by these convictions, which appear to be part of an ongoing State policy to diminish civic space and crackdown on dissenting voices in Cambodia,” the experts said. “This ruling will have a chilling effect on human rights defenders across the country.”

…, the Phnom Penh Court of First Instance handed down heavy sentences of six to eight years in prison and fines to 10 environmental activists from Mother Nature Cambodia, that advocates for the protection and preservation of Cambodia's natural environment and supports local communities in defending those rights…

The experts expressed grave concern about due process and fair trial standards they said had not been adhered to during the trial. “This process has failed to meet the standards of both Cambodian and international human rights law,” they said.

“We call on the Cambodian Appeals Court to carefully review the activists’ cases. They must be immediately and unconditionally released,” the experts said…

“With a new Government in place, there is a strong need for judicial reform to end the ongoing judicialised harassment of human rights defenders and environmental activists,” the experts said.

The experts also expressed concerns about the ongoing smear campaign and judicial harassment of the labour rights organization Centre for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (CENTRAL) for their work on freedom of association for workers and unions…