Cambodia bars green activists from traveling to accept international award

Three Cambodian environmental activists have been barred from leaving the country to accept an award in Sweden, prompting criticism of the government.

A court in Cambodia has denied the requests of three activists from environmental group Mother Nature Cambodia to travel to Sweden to accept an international award.

In a letter published Oct. 2 by Phnom Penh Municipal Court and posted publicly to Mother Nature Cambodia’s Facebook page, decrees the travel of the three activists to receive the award “unnecessary,” in the words of prosecutor Chroeng Khmao.

The Cambodian activist group was on Sept. 28 recognized as a laureate of the Right Livelihood award, often termed the “Alternative Nobel,” for its “relentless” environmental activism in the shrinking civil space of Cambodia. Three of the Mother Nature Cambodia activists invited to accept the award — Long Kunthea, Phun Keo Reaksmey and Thun Ratha — were barred from international travel while on parole for charges related to their environmental activism. They had petitioned for an exception, which the court turned down in its letter.

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