ILO Committee Calls for Labor Rights Inquiry

An International Labor Organiza­tion committee has recommended that the government accept an in­de­pendent, expert ILO mission to investigate allegations of officially-sanctioned violence against trade unionists.

In a report received Friday, the ILO Committee on Freedom of As­sociation expressed “deep concern” at the “extreme seriousness” of complaints received from the International Trade Union Confed­er­ation about violence against trade unionists in Cambodia. The committee also described an “absence of any significant efforts on the part of the government to thoroughly investigate…[these] matters in a tran­sparent, independent and impartial manner.”

The committee said an ILO mission should investigate the murder of Free Trade Union leader Chea Vichea in January 2004, as well as fellow FTU member Ros Sovan­nareth, who was shot dead months later. The ILO mission should also probe the killing of FTU member Hy Vuthy, who was gunned down in Feb­ruary, the report said. The report’s recommendations will now go to the ILO’s governing body for possible approval.

The committee recommended that the investigation into Chea Vich­ea’s murder be reopened and that Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun, imprisoned for the murder, “may exercise as soon as possible their right to a full appeal before an impartial and independent judicial authority.”

CPP Lawmaker Cheam Yeap said the Chea Vichea case was “un­der the jurisdiction of the courts, which contain their own structures.” It is not necessary for an independent committee to investigate be­cause the government al­ready has plenty of committees, he added.

Cheam Yeap also said the Na­tion­al Assembly pays plenty of at­tention to the condition in which trade unionists work.

Kek Galabru, president of local rights group Licadho, said she welcomed the committee’s recom­mend­ations. “We have also called for an independent investigation to find the perpetrators of the murders. This is an idea which reflects the will of the Cambodian people,” she said.

(Additional reporting by Van Roeun)

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