The Cambodian authorities should immediately drop baseless incitement charges against 14 recently detained youth and environmental activists and unconditionally release them, Human Rights Watch said today.
The authorities have arrested the 14 since August 2020 for organizing or taking part in peaceful protests. Eleven of them were held for calling for the release of a detained union leader, Rong Chhun. Youth activists had planned an eight-day protest at the designated protest area, called “Freedom Park,” on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. However, the authorities rejected the planners’ notification of the planned protests. On September 7, security forces blocked about 20 protesters outside of Freedom Park from entering the public protest space.
“The Cambodian authorities’ latest wave of arrests of activists shows a highly disturbing disregard not only for freedom of expression and assembly, but for land rights and the environment,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director. “The authorities should stop misusing penal code provisions on incitement to prevent peaceful critics from making public demands of the government.”