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Cambodia

    February 22, 2018
    Amnesty International publishes State of the World’s Human Rights report for 2017 to 2018 “Last year our world was immersed in crises, with prominent leaders offering us a nightmarish vision of a society blinded by hatred and fear. This emboldened those who promote bigotry, but it inspired far more people to campaign for a more hopeful future,” says Salil Shetty, head of Amnesty International

    The world is reaping the terrifying consequences of hate-filled rhetoric that threatens to normalize massive discrimination against marginalized groups, Amnesty International warned today as it launched its annual assessment of human rights.

    Nevertheless, the organization found that a growing movement of both first-time and seasoned activists campaigning for social justice provides real hope of reversing the slide towards oppression.

    The report, The State of the World’s Human Rights, covers 159 countries and delivers the most comprehensive analysis of the state of human rights in the world today.

    February 07, 2018
    Reacting to the news that the Cambodian Supreme Court today upheld the conviction and a 30 months' prison sentence for land rights activist Tep Vanny, James Gomez, Amnesty International's Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said:   "With today's ruling, Cambodia's judiciary has once again failed to prove that it can act independently, choosing to do the government's bidding instead. Tep Vanny is a brave social activist who has done nothing but peacefully stand up for her community. She should be released immediately and unconditionally, not forced to spend two and a half years in jail.   "The criminal proceedings against Tep Vanny have been deeply flawed from the start. She has become a symbol for the fight for justice in Cambodia and is someone the authorities have been determined to take off Cambodia's streets by any means necessary.  
    January 26, 2018

    Reacting to today’s verdict sentencing two environmental activists affiliated with the NGO Mother Nature to prison for one year plus fines, James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Southeast Asia and Pacific Director, said:

    “This is a farcical sentence that must be overturned immediately. The two Mother Nature activists have done nothing but peacefully campaigned for the protection of Cambodia’s environment and should have never been charged in the first place. Instead of going after the messenger, the authorities should do more to curb the illegal trade in natural resources that Hun Vannak and Doem Kundy activists were trying to expose.

    “Today’s ruling is yet more evidence of the politicised nature of Cambodia’s courts. Far from seeking justice and fairness, they too often act as an arm of the government to harass, intimidate and imprison human rights activists.

    “The backslide on human rights in Cambodia over the past year has been alarming. Unless the world wakes up and acts to demand change, space for peaceful activism and expression will shrink further as the government tightens its grip ahead of elections due this July.”

    December 22, 2017
    Environmental activists Doen Kundy and Hun Vannak

    Download a PDF og UA 279/17 Cambodia

    279 Cambodia.pdf

    On 11 September 2017, environmental activists Hun Vannak and Doem Kundy were arrested in Cambodia while filming two large vessels they suspected of illegally carrying sand for export. They face up to three years in prison for incitement and violation of privacy. Both men are prisoners of conscience.

    November 16, 2017

    Reacting to the Cambodian Supreme Court’s decision to dissolve the main opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Director of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said:

    “Today’s decision by the Supreme Court to dissolve the CNRP is not only a blatant act of political repression that must be reversed immediately, but also a serious violation of the human rights to freedom of association and expression in Cambodia. The fact that the court also ruled to ban more than 100 senior CNRP officials from political activity for five years compounds this injustice.

    “This is yet more evidence of how the judiciary in Cambodia is essentially used as an arm of the executive and as a political tool to silence dissent. The Supreme Court President Judge is known to have close ties to Prime Minister Hun Sen and is a member of high level committees of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.

    October 06, 2017

    The Cambodian authorities’ attempts to shut down the main opposition party ahead of next year’s general election is the latest move in a relentless effort to crush all forms of dissent, however peaceful, Amnesty International said today.

    The Interior Ministry today filed a complaint with the Supreme Court asking for the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) to be dissolved ahead of the elections scheduled for July 2018.

    “Prime Minister Hun Sen and his government seem intent on turning Cambodia into a criticism-free state by any means necessary. The attempts to disband the opposition party ahead of next year’s crucial vote is a blatant power grab and another escalation in the authorities’ crackdown on all forms of dissent,” said James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

    “The international community cannot stand idly by and simply watch as the human rights situation backslides rapidly in Cambodia. Key countries must immediately push the Cambodian government to end the sweeping restrictions on opposition figures’ and human rights defenders’ rights to liberty and to freedom of expression.”

    September 04, 2017

    The Cambodian authorities’ closure of the country’s longest running English-language newspaper today represents a new and disturbing escalation in the pre-election crackdown on government critics, Amnesty International said. The closure comes a day after the prominent opposition leader Kem Sokha was arrested on trumped up charges.

    The Cambodia Daily was today forced to shut down after it failed to meet a deadline to pay a multi-million dollar tax bill the government imposed on the newspaper in August. The Daily, founded in 1993, was one of the few media outlets in the country not controlled by the government.

    “This is a disturbing day for freedom of expression in Cambodia. It is chilling how ruthlessly and quickly the authorities have been able to move to shut down one of the country’s few, independent voices in the media,” said James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Director of Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

    August 15, 2017
      Amnesty International and 63 other organizations are demanding the release of the Cambodian human rights defender Tep Vanny today on the one-year anniversary of her arrest on trumped up charges.   “Tep Vanny has now languished in prison for one year for doing nothing but peacefully defending her community. The charges against her have always been spurious at best – she must be released immediately and unconditionally,” said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Deputy Campaigns Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.  
    July 28, 2017
      By Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Deputy Campaigns Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific   There is nothing left of Boeung Kak lake in the centre of Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh. What used to be the largest body of water in the city has over the past years been completely filled with sand, as part of a development project to build new condominiums and office buildings. Since construction started in 2007 thousands of families have been illegally evicted, and the Boeung Kak area has become a focal point for human rights defenders in Cambodia.  
    July 25, 2017

    Photo Credit: © LICADHO, Housing rights activist Tep Vanny arrives at court in February.

    Download PDF here.

     

    This is Tep Vanny. Amnesty International calls her a symbol of peaceful activism in Cambodia. Why? Because she champions the rights of people in her community without using violence.

    Tep Vanny had been doing that for almost 10 years. She helped other communities too. But then the government wanted her to stop criticizing their actions and they put her in jail.

    The government must free Tep Vanny. You can help make that happen.

    It all started about 10 years ago when Tep Vanny was about 25 years old. She was living among 4000 families beside a lake in the middle of Cambodia’s capital city, Phnom Penh (you can pronounce it Nom Pen).

    July 05, 2017
    Responding to the Cambodian government’s decision to ban the NGO coalition called the Situation Room from monitoring next year’s elections, Amnesty International’s Deputy Campaigns Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, Josef Benedict, said:   “The ban on the Situation Room is a blatant attempt to silence the work of civil society in Cambodia, and must be reversed immediately. It is chilling that the government is moving to limit public debate and unduly restrict the rights to freedom of expression and association ahead of next year’s general election.   “Instead of trying to repress civil society, Cambodia must ensure that NGOs can operate without fear of reprisal. The first steps should be to repeal the restrictive law on NGOs enacted in 2015, and stop using the courts to harass and silence human rights defenders. These tactics have left civil society extremely vulnerable, where many NGO workers live under the daily threat of being arbitrarily detained or subjected to other forms of retaliation for the work they do.”  
    May 30, 2017

    Cambodia’s government is using its courts to silence human rights defenders and political activists, Amnesty International says today in a new report.

    Using its tight grip on the criminal justice system, the Cambodian government has brought a series of trumped-up charges against members of the political opposition, trade union activists, human rights activists, and political commentators, in an attempt to harass, intimidate and punish them.

    “In Cambodia, the courts are tools in the hands of the government. Much lip-service is paid to the judiciary’s independence, but the evidence reveals a cynical manipulation of the criminal justice system to serve political goals and silence people whose views the government refuses to tolerate,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

    September 09, 2016

    Reacting to the conviction earlier today of Kem Sokha, the acting head of the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party, on charges under Article 538 of refusing to appear as a witness, Amnesty International said:

    “Cambodia is in crisis with the government engaging in a campaign of intimidation against peaceful political and civil society activists, using frivolous prosecutions designed to punish, isolate and marginalise any peaceful dissent,” said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for South East Asia and the Pacific.

    “Today’s conviction of acting opposition leader Kem Sokha for refusing to appear as a witness is yet another transparent act of political intimidation and the latest development in the ongoing campaign. The government’s appears to believe that violating human rights is a legitimate tool of government, as is compromising the independence of the country’s judiciary and the government’s standing in the international community.”

    May 04, 2016

    The Cambodian authorities and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) must immediately end its ongoing and unlawful campaign to dismantle the political opposition and undermine the invaluable and legitimate work of the country’s human rights’ groups and political commentators. It is time for the international community to step in and to call on Cambodia to end this campaign which threatens to fatally undermine the Cambodian people’s constitutionally and internationally protected rights.

    On 2 May 2016, four staff members from the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC), Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan, Nay Vanda, and Lem Mony, were arrested and charged with bribing a witness along with former ADHOC staff member and current deputy secretary-general of the National Election Committee, Ny Chakrya, who was charged as an accomplice. The Anti-Corruption Unit also issued an arrest warrant for Soen Saly, an officer of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), despite his immunity from arrest granted under the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations. He is also charged as an accomplice.

    July 21, 2015

    The Cambodian authorities must immediately quash politically motivated convictions against 11 opposition party activists handed down today after grossly unfair trials, Amnesty International said.

    A court in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh today sentenced 10 youth activists and one official from the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) to between seven and 20 years in prison on “insurrection” charges.

    “This trial lacked the most basic fair trial guarantees, and the convictions of these 11 activists should be overturned immediately,” said Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Research Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

    “The proceedings were littered with flaws and the defendants were denied the right to be tried by an independent and impartial tribunal.”

    The charges relate to a demonstration in Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park on 15 July 2014 around Cambodia’s disputed elections, which ended in violent clashes between protesters and “para-police”.

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