The Cambodian authorities should immediately drop incitement charges and release an outspoken trade union leader and rights activist, Human Rights Watch said today.
On the evening of July 31, 2020, the authorities arrested Rong Chhun, president of the independent Cambodian Confederation of Unions, without an arrest warrant at his home in Phnom Penh, alleging he was committing an in flagrante delicto (caught in the act) offense. On August 1, the Phnom Penh municipal court charged him with “incitement to commit a felony” under articles 494 and 495 of Cambodia’s penal code and sent him to pretrial detention at Phnom Penh’s Correctional Center 1. The charges against Rong Chhun appear to be linked to his recent advocacy for the land rights of villagers living near Cambodia’s border with Vietnam.
“The arrest of Rong Chhun is the latest example of unrelenting government repression against activists trying to protect ordinary Cambodians’ basic rights,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The European Union should add this outrage to the long list of rights abuses that need to be resolved in negotiations over ‘Everything But Arms’ trade preferences.”