Cambodia ‘bleeding’ as space for civil society shrinks

Activists and rights groups say COVID-19 law is now being deployed by the government as another tool to further curtail freedoms.

Vorn Pao was distraught when one of his association’s workers was detained in May this year while collecting the names of families living along the Thai-Cambodia border who were facing food shortages due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The association wanted to ensure hungry families got the support they needed, but the authorities saw the situation differently.

“He was accused of violating the [COVID-19] law as he went to some areas that are banned,” said Pao, 46 the head of Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association, IDEA, an association set up to help people who work in the informal economy.

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