Three young environmental activists in Cambodia face between five and 10 years in prison and fines of up to 10 million riels ($2,500) on charges of conspiracy and insulting the monarchy. The charges against the activists, associated with the NGO Mother Nature Cambodia, are the latest in an ongoing crackdown by Cambodian authorities against environmental advocates.
Sun Ratha, 26 years old, and Ly Chandaravuth, 22, were arrested in Phnom Penh, the capital, while Yim Leanghy, 32, was arrested in Kandal province, on June 16. They were charged on June 20 at a court in Phnom Penh in connection with their work documenting the dumping of raw sewage effluent into the Tonle Sap River in the vicinity of the Royal Palace.
The Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO) and 74 other local rights groups have condemned the move as part of the government’s “targeted and outrageous persecution” of activists. In a statement, the groups called on authorities to “stop imprisoning and start listening to our youth activists who are on the front line of documenting the risks Cambodia faces from natural resource exploitation and environmental degradation.”