Annual Report: Cambodia 2011

May 28, 2011

Annual Report: Cambodia 2011

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  • In September, Ieng Sary, Ieng Thirith, Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea were charged with genocide of the Cham and Vietnamese, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and other crimes.
  • Prime Minister Hun Sen undermined progress on an additional two cases covering five individuals by warning that he would not allow further prosecutions.

Human rights defenders

Scores of people were arrested for defending the right to housing and protesting against land grabs and forced evictions, with dozens serving sentences imposed in previous years. Most were charged with fabricated, groundless or spurious offences, such as damage to private property, incitement, robbery, and assault.

  • Trials continued of villagers involved in protests over loss of farmland in a dispute in Chikreng district of Siem Reap province. Hundreds of villagers attended the trials to support the defendants, including Buddhist monk Luon Savath, who was harassed by security forces and threatened with defrocking for his peaceful activities. He had documented the aftermath of the shooting of Chikreng protesters by security forces in March 2009.
  • In May, community leaders Long Sarith and Long Chan Kiri were sentenced to two years' imprisonment for "clearing state forest" in connection with a land dispute involving a sugar company and residents of Bos village in Samrong district of Oddar Meanchey province. The homes of 100 families in the village were destroyed by security forces four days after their arrest in October 2009.

Freedom of expression and association

The courts were used to curtail freedom of expression and association of journalists, trade union members and opposition parliamentarians.

  • After two trials in January and September, Sam Rainsy, leader of the largest opposition party, was sentenced in absentia to 12 years' imprisonment concerning protests over disputed territory on the Cambodia-Viet Nam border. He lived in exile.
  • In September, around 200,000 workers took part in a four-day nationwide strike to protest over an inadequate increase in the minimum wage. Union leaders and activists were threatened with legal action, including charges of "incitement". Factory owners suspended union leaders and protesting workers were fired from their jobs. Even after intervention by the authorities, by December around 370 workers and union leaders had not been reinstated. Several court cases were ongoing at the end of the year.

Violence against women and girls

No comprehensive, reliable official data was available on incidents of violence against women and girls, including sexual violence, or on the number of prosecutions of suspected perpetrators. Victims faced obstacles in obtaining justice due to criminal justice system failures and out of court settlements. A shortage of services to aid and support victims added to their trauma.

  • Meas Veasna was reportedly raped by a monk at a pagoda in Prey Veng province in June 2009 just weeks after giving birth. Although she reported the crime to the police and attended a meeting with pagoda leaders, police, local authorities and the alleged perpetrator, no prosecution was made. Instead, a pagoda representative gave her USD250 for medication. She now lives in a different town from her husband and young children because of the stigma attached to rape.