The International Labor Organization on Monday renewed its call for independent investigations into the murders of three Free Trade Union leaders gunned down successively between 2004 and 2007.
The ILO’s Committee on Freedom of Association said in a statement that the government should “carry out rapidly a thorough and independent investigation into the murders of trade union leaders Chea Vichea, Ros Sovannareth and Hy Vuthy.”
In the past, the organization has made similar appeals to the government with regard to the union leaders’ slayings.
The ILO also said Thach Saveth—who was sentenced in 2005 to 15 years for the murder of Ros Sovannareth in May 2004—should be given the right to a full appeal against his verdict, as his trial, which lasted an hour, “was characterized by the absence of due process of law.”
Chea Vichea was shot dead in broad daylight at a newsstand near Wat Lanka in Phnom Penh in January 2004. Two men were found guilty of the killing in 2005 in a trial whose fairness was questioned around the world. In 2008, the Supreme Court reopened the investigation into the murder and the two suspects were granted bail.
Hy Vuthy was fatally shot in February 2007. So far no suspects have been arrested, but on Nov 10 the Supreme Court reopened the investigation into the case.
FTU leader Chea Mony, the brother of Chea Vichea, welcomed the ILO’s statement, saying, “We strongly support the ILO statement to push the government to investigate the cases.”
“Since a long time ago the government could not investigate these cases, up to now the authorities still not find the real killers,” Mr Mony said.
Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said the ILO’s assertion that the murder investigations had not been independent was “an insult.”
Mr Siphan said the ILO had “to respect Cambodian law…. If they have new proof [in the murder cases], they should submit it to the court. These cases are still open.”
Matthieu Pellerin, a consultant for the human rights group Licadho, welcomed the ILO’s statement, saying that although international pressure might not directly affect the murder investigations, it could prevent future violence.