Human rights defenders in Cambodia are less safe than they were a year ago according to a report published on 19 June 2013 by ARTICLE 19 and the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR). The risk assessment survey shows the security situation in the country deteriorated significantly in 2012 as the government crackdown on fundamental human rights intensified ahead of July's elections. The report highlights in particular, increasing attacks on freedom of expression and freedom of association.
ARTICLE 19 and CCHR demand that the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) immediately stop persecuting human rights defenders (HRDs) and take concrete measures to actively promote and protect the basic human rights in the country.
“Repeatedly we have seen that people who stand up and speak out about injustices and violations are either beaten or locked up. The human rights situation in Cambodia is dire and getting worse” said Agnes Callamard, ARTICLE 19's Executive Director.
The RGC frequently employs hardline intimidation tactics to silencing criticism, including physical violence, arresting people without charge and waging campaigns of legal and judicial harassment. These efforts are particularly directed towards people that are defending land and housing rights, trade unionists, members of opposition political groups, human rights lawyers, journalists, and the local NGO community.
“The government has a very low tolerance for criticism - and as a result, Cambodian human rights defenders are continually targeted by the authorities,” said OU Virak, CCHR's President. “We all need to increase our efforts to stand behind Cambodian human rights defenders and provide support to these men and women who continue to speak out despite the considerable risk involved,” he added.
This report aims to jump-start a much-needed long-term coordinated initiative by the national and international community to protect HRDs in Cambodia. HRDs are an integral part of a democratic society, and only when Cambodian HRDs can carry out their work with minimum risk will the overall human rights situation in Cambodia be improved.
The report includes a risk assessment that holistically analyses trends of threats and risks faced by different groups of HRDs in Cambodian.
Download the full report:
CCHR_ARTICLE19_defending_the_defenders.pdf (544 KB)