Joint Statement Appeal to drop all charges against all land community representatives and release three community representatives.

January 14, 2021: We, the civil society groups, unions, and communities listed below, express our deepest concerns over the arrest and detention of three land community representatives recently, as well as the indictment of more than 50 land community representatives. We would like to ask the court to drop the charges and release them.

Mr. Phon Sophal, a representative of the land community in Choam Kravien commune, was arrested by police at the entrance to the Yea Chey company in Ream commune, Prey Nob district, Preah Sihanouk province. This occurred in the morning of December 30, 2020, after he was returning from 2020 annual reflecting with the Cambodian Farmers' Association. The arrest was made under Warrant No. 03, dated December 28, 2020, on charges of conspiracy to incite to commit serious acts of social unrest through social media in Tbong Khmum Province from August 22 to October 22, 2020. The arrest warrant was issued by the investigating judge of Tbong Khmum Provincial Court. He was taken from Sihanoukville to the Tbong Khmum Provincial Prison on the afternoon of December 31, 2020, without providing information to his family in accordance with the procedures. The family later learned of the incident through prison officials who contacted them. Mr. Phon Sophal could face between six months to two years in prison under Articles 494 and 495 of the Penal Code. He has always been active in helping to protect the community land rights and peacefully advocate in accordance with national and international human rights law.

In addition, two community representatives in Sre Prang community in Tbong Khmum province were arrested. More than 30 other community members were charged with various criminal offenses due to their activism and simply trying to protect their community land. Among them, Mr. Sem Sang was arrested in October 2019, and Mr. Hoeun Sinath was arrested in August 2020. The two are facing charges related to land dispute between the community in Tbong Khmum province and a Chinese company, Harmony Win Investment.

In Koh Kong province, 13 land community representatives were charged by the Koh Kong Provincial Court with “defamation”, “inciting to commit acts that cause serious social unrest” and “public defamation”. According to the provisions of Articles 305, 311, 312, 494, and 495 of the Penal Code, they have been placed under judicial supervision due to the exercise of their fundamental rights and freedoms to protect their land.

By monitoring human rights abuses in Cambodia, we, as organizations, associations, unions, and communities, have observed persecution by the authorities and arrests of land and environmental activists. Many have been charged with inciting to commit crimes, including inciting social unrest and other crimes. The arrest and detention of Mr. Phon Sophal, Mr. Hoeun Sinath, Mr. Sem Sang, and Mrs. Eng Van (according to the Supreme Court ruling) as outstanding land activists are direct and indirect threat to land communities across the country. These activists are always defending the rights of citizens in their own communities, these rights are guaranteed by the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia as well as in international law.

We hope that the Royal Government of Cambodia will fulfill its obligation to guarantee the right to freedom of expression in accordance with the Constitution and international human rights law. We also encourage the Tbong Khmum and Koh Kong Provincial Courts to drop all charges against all land community representatives and release the three community representatives, Mr. Phon Sophal, Mr. Hoeun Sinath and Mr. Sem Sang, to reunite with their families and to be able to continue their important work without interruption.  

This statement is supported by:

Civil Society Organizations Call for the Draft Law on Public Order to be Immediately Discarded

August 13, 2020 - Phnom Penh, 13 August 2020 – We, the undersigned national and international organizations and communities, call on the Royal Government of Cambodia (“RGC”) to immediately discard the repressive draft Law on Public Order and uphold its obligations under international human rights law. The draft law contains an extensive array of provisions that effectively criminalize the legitimate everyday activities of many within the Kingdom of Cambodia (“Cambodia”), in violation of their rights to freedom of expression, association, assembly and other protected human rights. If enacted, the draft law will become yet another piece of repressive legislation in a legal framework that severely undermines human rights.

The draft law has been written in an attempt to regulate public spaces and public behavior within those spaces. It covers aesthetics, sanitation, cleanliness, noise, and social values, all under the broad aim of maintaining “public order”. It endeavors to set out specific activities that are prohibited, lists a range of penalties that may be imposed for breaches, and grants unfettered enforcement powers to authorities across all levels of government, with the proclaimed objective of creating “a more civilized society”. We are gravely concerned about the multitude of overbroad and arbitrary provisions in the draft law which violate numerous human rights protections enshrined in the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia (“the Constitution”) and human rights treaties to which Cambodia is a party, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (“ICCPR”) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (“ICESCR”). Several of our key concerns are listed below, however the only way to remedy this unnecessary draft law is to discard it in its entirety.

1. Scope and purpose: The draft law is extensive in scope and includes such an expanse of prohibited actions that it would be virtually impossible to uniformly enforce, in contrast with longstanding universal rule of law principles. Art. 1 of the draft law states its purpose is “to ensure public order management by maintaining order, aesthetic value, sanitation, cleanliness of the environment, quietness, social stability, preservation of national tradition, and the dignity of citizens”. Many of these terms and categories are not defined, and are based on purported social objectives which are arbitrary, subjective and constantly changing. This lack of clarity leaves the primary justification for enforcing the law open to interpretation, making it impossible for the public to properly understand the law, predict what actions may contravene it, and comply with it. While public order is a legitimate aim under international human rights law - meaning that it can be relied upon to justify restrictions on some human rights in certain narrow circumstances - any restrictions in the name of public order must be necessary, proportionate, and the least restrictive means of realizing the aim.

2. Discrimination: The draft law disproportionately impacts certain marginalized groups, in contravention of anti-discrimination guarantees protected in the Constitution, ICCPR, ICESCR, and other binding human rights instruments. It negatively impacts economically disadvantaged members of society, as well as those who work in the informal economy, many of whom rely on activities prohibited by the draft law for their livelihoods. For example, Art. 11 prohibits “selling products on the roadsides that can affect public order”, a common source of income in Cambodia, while Art. 37(i) prohibits “all forms of begging”. Art. 11 also effectively prohibits homelessness, by banning the use of public space for “temporary shelters” without approval from the authorities. Everyone has the right to an adequate standard of living, and Cambodia currently lacks a system of social protection which can guarantee this right for the people most at risk in Cambodian society. Rather than supporting marginalized members of society, the draft law has the potential to further entrench poverty and economic inequality.

The draft law also contains provisions which seriously undermine the rights of individuals with mental health conditions, as well as facilitate discrimination and stigmatization. The draft law imposes arbitrary and unjustifiable restrictions on individuals with a so-called “mental disorder”, which is vaguely defined as “a change which results in the loss of the sense of right or wrong”. This definition lacks any legal or scientific basis and fails to require an expert medical diagnosis. It instead seems to determine an individual’s mental health on their ability to make a moral judgement, while failing to consider the severity of the “mental disorder”. It therefore fails to comply with international human rights standards for not determining what can amount to a “mental disorder” in accordance with internationally accepted medical standards. The draft law prohibits these individuals from “walk[ing]freely in public places” (Art. 25). This blanket restriction on the movement of a vast cohort of individuals, without requiring a determination as to whether it is absolutely necessary under the individual circumstances, impinges on the rights to liberty and freedom of movement as guaranteed by Art. 9 of the ICCPR, and violates rights protected under the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which Cambodia has ratified. The draft law is deeply concerning as it strips people with mental health conditions of their most fundamental human rights and allows for blatant disability-based discrimination.

In addition to the above-mentioned groups, the draft law contains concerning provisions that could exacerbate discrimination against women (Art. 37, as analyzed below).

3. Freedom of peaceful assembly and association: The draft Law on Public Order raises serious concerns for the exercise of freedom of peaceful assembly and association in Cambodia. Arts. 6 and 30 require approval from authorities for the “use of public spaces”, and would permit authorities to stop an event if authorization has not been sought. In conjunction with Art. 48, which nullifies any existing, contrary provisions, the draft law effectively reverses the prior notification principle contained in Art. 5 and 7 of the Law on Peaceful Assembly and replaces it with a prior authorization requirement, in direct contravention of international human rights law, including under Art. 21 of the ICCPR. These provisions also provide grounds for the arbitrary interference that many individuals and associations already experience when holding events. In addition, Art. 31 of the draft law allows authorities to refuse or stop events based on six overbroad categories, including if the event causes “any hostility with the competent authorities” or “impact to public interests”, which is extremely broad and could be used to prohibit assemblies or events on the unfettered discretion of authorities without predictability or certainty in application and without due consideration for fundamental freedoms. Furthermore, Art. 33 prescribes a restriction on the number of attendees to events, not exceeding “two people within 1.20 square meters”. This arbitrary provision empowers authorities to illegitimately restrict peaceful assemblies or association activities by arbitrarily limiting the number of participants without requiring authorities to make an informed assessment as to whether it is necessary under the particular circumstances. Indigenous communities, grassroots associations, workers’ unions, and local activists depend on the ability to assemble to advocate for their rights, and will be severely harmed by such restrictive provisions. In the new General Comment 37 , the UN Human Rights Committee affirms that States cannot rely on vague definitions of public order to justify overbroad restrictions, as this draft law does. The Committee emphasizes that “public order” and “law and order” are not to be confused, with the latter requiring states to exercise a “significant degree of toleration” for disruption caused by peaceful assemblies.

4. Freedom of expression: The draft Law on Public Order also allows for arbitrary infringements on the right to freedom of expression. Firstly, the law prohibits “speaking loudly” (Art. 16) and imposes a blanket curfew on any unauthorized noise “from 12pm to 2pm and from 10pm to 5am” (Art. 17) without meeting the requirement of necessity for achieving the aim of public order, in violation of the ICCPR. Moreover, Art. 36 – which prohibits men from being shirtless in public and women from wearing clothes that are “too short” or “too see-through” that “affect the national tradition and dignity” – violates freedom of expression, undermines personal autonomy and fails to define innately subjective standards of dignity, thus opening the door to unequal enforcement. Art. 36 will also exacerbate discrimination against women, who face negative gender stereotypes and entrenched patriarchal societal norms. In Cambodia women have been subjected to threats and imprisonment for their choices in clothing, with one woman convicted of a crime related to her clothing already in 2020. Further, the Prime Minister has publicly blamed women’s clothing for provoking gender-based violence, including sex crimes. Art. 36 would add to this culture of ‘victim-blaming’ by effectively criminalizing women, including survivors of violence, for their clothing choices.

Ultimately, the draft law has the potential to severely restrict freedom of expression both online and offline. Art. 37 prohibits a broad range of unreasonably vague categories of expression where it affects “national tradition and dignity”, without elaborating on the standards of dignity to which the public will be held accountable to. This includes, for example, “exhibiting or disseminating writing or picture or using cursing words on social media”, “showing arrogant behavior” and “disseminating or posting writing, signs or pictures that represent any threat”. Extending the scope of the law to the online sphere gives rise to further concern due to the widespread repression of freedom of expression online in Cambodia, with 2020 baring witness to multiple arrests of individuals for expressing opinions online.

5. Penalties and enforcement: The prohibited activities in the draft law are subject to penalties ranging from “warnings” and “administrative penalties”, to “imprisonment and/or a fine”. Under the draft law an individual can be imprisoned for 1 – 6 days, and fined between 100,000 – 500,000 riels. The draft law fails to regulate the application of these penalties, enabling authorities to make discretionary determinations on the appropriate penalty for each prohibited activity, which risks misapplication, lack of uniformity in application, and lack of predictability in complying with and enforcing the law. Due to the draft law’s disproportionate targeting of economically disadvantaged people, it would impose fines on those who are least able to afford them. The grounds upon which imprisonment can be imposed are unacceptably vague, in violation of the principle of legality. Judging by international human rights standards, imprisonment is highly unlikely to be either a necessary or proportionate response to many breaches of this law, and thus is not an appropriate penalty.

Art. 6 raises concerns for the enforcement of the draft law as it empowers local authorities to “assign contractual officials to assist in maintaining public order”. “Security guards” or “para-police” hired by local authorities in Cambodia have a long track record of violently harassing individuals and human rights defenders seeking to exercise their rights, and are rarely held accountable. These contracted security forces operate in a legal vacuum, lacking regulation, accountability and training, and as such they represent a serious threat to the peaceful exercise of human rights.

The draft Law on Public Order has been released amid a crackdown on fundamental freedoms in Cambodia. Laws that grant overbroad and unfettered powers to the RGC are regularly misused to undermine human rights and target free speech. If brought into force, this draft law would further curtail the rights and freedoms of individuals in Cambodia to the detriment of the nation as a whole. We therefore call on the Royal Government of Cambodia to immediately discard the draft Law on Public Order in its entirety and uphold its obligations under international human rights law.

This joint statement is endorsed by:

1. Action Aid Cambodia (AAC)
2. Advocacy and Policy Institute (API)
3. Alliance for Conflict Transformation (ACT)
4. Amnesty International
5. Article 19
6. ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR)
7. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
8. Banteay Srei
9. Beong Tunle Mrech Community
10. Boeung Trabek Community, Phnom Penh
11. Borei Keila Community, Phnom Penh
12. Bu Sra community, Mondulkiri province
13. Building Community Voices (BCV)
14. Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR)
15. Cambodian Center for Independent Media (CCIM)
16. Cambodian Food And Service Workers Federation (CFSWF)
17. Cambodian Human Rights Action Coalition (CHRAC)
18. Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC)
19. Cambodia Indigenous Peoples Organization (CIPO)
20. Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO)
21. Cambodian Youth Network (CYN)
22. Child Rights Coalition Cambodia (CRC-Cambodia)
23. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
24. Coalition for Integrity and Social Accountability (CISA)
25. Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Community (CCFC)
26. Community Peace-Building Network (CPN)
27. Equitable Cambodia (EC)
28. Former Boeung Kak Women Network Community
29. Gender and Development for Cambodia (GADC)
30. Human Rights Watch (HRW)
31. Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA)
32. Indradevi Association (IDA)
33. International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)
34. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
35. International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX)
36. Khmer Kampuchea Krom for Human Rights and Development Association (KKKHRDA)
37. Khmer Thavrak
38. Khmer Youth Association (KYA)
39. Klahaan
40. Koun Kriel Community, Oddar Meanchey province
41. Labor Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees of Naga World (L.R.S.U)
42. Land Conflict Community, Phnom Krenh Village, Pailin province
43. Lor Peang Community, Kampong Chhnang province
44. Minority Rights Organization (MIRO)
45. Mother Nature Cambodia (MN)
46. Natural Resources Protection Community in Krakor district, Pursat province
47. Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (NICFEC)
48. Not1More (N1M)
49. Phnom Bat Community
50. Phnom Kram Community, Siem Reap province
51. Phum 23 Community
52. Ponlok Khmer (PKH)
53. Prek Chik Village, Chi Kha Kraom Commune Land Community, Koh Kong province
54. Prey Peay Community, Kampot province
55. Railway Station, Toul Sangkae A Community
56. Sahmakum Teang Tnaut (STT)
57. SOS International Airport Community
58. Tany 197 Community, Chikhor Leur commune, Koh Kong province
59. The Cambodian NGO Committee on CEDAW (NGO-CEDAW)
60. Thma Da commune, Pursat province
61. Transparency International Cambodia (TIC)
62. Trapeang Sangkae Community, Kampot province
63. Women Peace Makers (WPM)
64. World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)
65. Youth Council of Cambodia (YCC)

PDF format: Download full statement in English - Download full statement in Khmer

Release Imprisoned Activists and End Crackdown Against Young Cambodians

September 9, 2020 - We, the undersigned civil society groups, condemn the arrests of seven young activists over the past few days, and call for all charges against those imprisoned to be dropped immediately. We urge the government to end its campaign of fear and repression against peaceful youth and environmental human rights defenders, and ensure the rights of the Cambodian people to peacefully advocate for themselves, their families and their communities are respected.
On Monday September 7 Khmer Thavrak youth group member Tha Lavy, 19, was arrested while stepping out of a tuk-tuk at Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park on his way to a peaceful demonstration at the designated protest space calling for the release of imprisoned union leader Rong Chhun. Another Khmer Thavrak member, Eng Malai, was followed by police from the protest and arrested that same evening after leaving the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights.

Their detention followed the arrests on Thursday September 3 of three young environmental activists. The trio were planning a one-woman march to raise awareness about the filling-in of Boeung Tamok lake in the capital’s north. Their names are Long Kunthea, Phoung Keorasmey and Thun Ratha. On Sunday September 6 the three were charged with incitement to commit a felony or disturb social order under Articles 494 and 495 of the Criminal Code and imprisoned. These charges carry a sentence of up to two years in prison. The youngest, Keorasmey, is just 19 years old.

Also on Sunday September 6, ordained Buddhist monk Koet Saray and Khmer Student Intelligent League Association vice-president Mean Prommony were arrested by police over plans for a peaceful assembly in Freedom Park to call for the release of union leader Rong Chhun, Khmer Win Party president Soung Sophorn and Khmer Thavrak members Chhoeun Daravy and Hun Vannak following their arrests in August. Venerable Saray was defrocked on Monday afternoon, and both men were also charged with incitement and sent to pre-trial detention in Phnom Penh’s Correctional Centre 1.

Police also arrested 22-year-old rapper Kea Sokun in Siem Reap on Friday September 4. He was charged the next day with incitement in connection with a four-month-old song “Dey Khmer” – Khmer Land. The song, which had more than 1.5 million views on YouTube as of his arrest, spoke about Cambodia's borders. Sokun remains in pre-trial detention in Siem Reap.

This latest wave of arrests follows the detention of six more people who were charged with incitement and imprisoned in August while also calling for Rong Chhun’s release. They included Chum Puthy, Chhoung Pheng, Sar Kanika, Chhoeun Daravy, Hun Vannak and Soung Sophorn.

The Interior Ministry released a statement on Monday instructing authorities to take legal action against members of the Khmer Thavrak youth group and Mother Nature Cambodia environmental movement, accusing the groups of causing social chaos. With the detention of Malai and Lavy, a total of ten people have so far been arrested for participating in peaceful demonstrations calling for Rong Chhun's release.

We are extremely concerned about the use of incitement charges as a weapon to silence civil debate and strangle civic engagement. We call on the government to immediately drop all charges against the activists it has arrested and to halt its crackdown against youth and environmental groups.

This joint statement is endorsed by;
1. Activities for Environment Community (AEC)
2. Affiliated Network for Social Accountability (ANSA)
3. Alliance for Conflict Transformation (ACT)
4. Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Federation of Cambodia (BWTUC)
5. Building Community Voices (BCV)
6. Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR)
7. Cambodian Food and Service Workers’ Federation (CFSWF)
8. Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC)
9. Cambodian Informal Economy Workers Association (CIWA)
10. Cambodia’s Independent Civil Servants Association (CICA)
11. Cambodian Institute for Democracy (CID)
12. Cambodian Labor Confederation (CLC)
13. Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO)
14. Cambodian Tourism and Service Workers Federation (CTSWF)
15. Cambodian Volunteers for Society (CVS)
16. Cambodian Youth Network (CYN)
17. Cambodia Tourism Workers Union Federation (CTWUF)
18. Cambodia Youth and Monk Network (CYMN)
19. Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (CENTRAL)
20. Coalition for Integrity and Social Accountability (CISA)
21. Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union (C.CAWDU)
22. Coalition of Cambodian Farmers Community Association (CCFC)
23. Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (COMFREL)
24. Community Peace-Building Network (CPN)
25. Equitable Cambodia (EC)
26. Free Trade Union of Workers of Kingdom of Cambodia (FTUWKC)
27. Indradevi Association (IDA)
28. Khmer Kampuchea Krom For Human Rights and Development Association (KKKHRDA)
29. Labour Right Supported Union Khmer Employee of Nagaworld (L.R.S.U)
30. Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (NICFEC)
31. Peace Bridge Organisation (PBO)
32. People Center for Development and Peace (PDP)
33. Ponlok Khmer (PKH)
34. Rural Cambodia Technological Support Organisation (RCTSO)
35. Sahmakum Teang Tnaut (STT)
36. Social Action for Community and Development (SACD)
37. The Cambodian Center for the Protection of Children's Rights (CCPCR)
38. Transparency International Cambodia (TI)
39. Youth Resources Development Program (YRDP)

PDF format: Download full statement in English - Download full statement in Khmer
MP3 format: Listen to audio version in Khmer

International Day of Peace, September 21,2020 No Land Rights No Peace!

Press release: In 1981 the United Nations established the "International Day of Peace" to commemorate and strengthen the peaceful settlement of all peoples and nations around the world.  September 21, in every year, people from all classes, celebrating this main event is about to global day that can hold privately and communities locally until the national level in order to spur global government efforts to  end conflicts and promote peace, freedom and respect for human rights accordingly.

More than 1100 households of farmers and people from various communities who have been affected on pro-long land disputes, are able to celebrate the 39th anniversary of International Day of Peace which will be taken place on September 21, 2020 with the dubbed “No Land Rights, No Peace ”in Phnom Penh in order to Celebrate Peace Day and promote the global peace in relation the land disputes resolution process, human rights and basic of human rights as well. The overall aims of the event of IDP are about to:

Stop Harassment of Community Representatives over COVID-19 Petition

May 4, 2020 - We the undersigned groups decry the harassment of community representatives from across Cambodia on Tuesday, April 28. These community representatives were arbitrarily detained for seven hours and interrogated while trying to submit a petition asking for additional government assistance to vulnerable communities during the Covid-19 crisis.

More than 30 community representatives from across Cambodia gathered in Phnom Penh to submit the petition, which has life-saving requests such as asking the government to distribute medical supplies to vulnerable communities; suspend debts from microfinance institutions (MFIs) and private money lenders; and provide direct economic assistance, including suspending rental fees for poor and informal workers and providing stay-at-home payments.

During this process, community representatives were repeatedly asked by authorities, including police officers, what organisations were “behind” this petition, who authored the petition, and were questioned about whether they really faced the problems listed. Many questions focused on the community members’ microfinance debt, and some representatives were asked about their personal financial situation and were required to provide proof of debts to MFIs to district authorities. At least two community representatives were additionally summonsed and harassed after they returned home to their communities by local authorities.

These interrogations are insulting and appear predicated on the mistrust of vocal communities who actively exercise their right to freely express themselves. They ignore the reality that independent communities across Cambodia have advocated for their rights for decades, in particular around crucial issues such as land rights. This harassment is unjustified and should never have taken place, particularly when the Interior Ministry has repeatedly claimed that grassroots communities have the right to conduct activities free from disturbance and in accordance with the law.

On the morning of April 28, community representatives gathered in Phnom Penh but were denied permission to submit the petition to the Council of Ministers. They were instead directed by authorities to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Cabinet, but officials there declined to accept the petition because it was addressed to the Council of Ministers. Copies were successfully delivered to the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Economy and Finance.

The petition was signed by 141 communities across the country and seeks to address the health and economic impacts of the Covid-19 virus, which disproportionately affect vulnerable communities in rural areas as well as Phnom Penh. It notes that government schemes such as ID Poor are not yet comprehensive or fully effective, and encourages the government to take a more holistic approach to fighting the economic impact of the virus. It also includes a call for an immediate halt on all evictions during the Covid-19 crisis in order to protect community members and authorities from the virus.

After meeting with authorities and police officers at Hun Sen’s Cabinet, nine community members were asked by officials to discuss the petition further at the Daun Penh district office at around 3:00 p.m. They were detained in the district office for more than 7 hours, denied permission to leave and were never provided legal justification for their detention. During their detention, they faced interrogation from authorities until after 10:00 p.m. Some representatives were deliberately singled out and questioned individually, and then had answers compared to other representatives – interrogation techniques more commonly used on criminals, not peaceful petitioners. Some representatives were also ordered to unlock and hand over their smartphones, and were questioned repeatedly about who authored the petition, as well as their personal financial relationships with MFIs.

At the end of the interrogation, community representatives were coerced into thumbprinting documents that seek to restrict their right to continue advocating on behalf of their communities prior to being allowed to leave the district office.

These community representatives should have been welcomed by their government and treated with dignity while they shared the legitimate concerns of tens of thousands of community members across Cambodia. The community representatives set out with the intention to inform their government about the problems in their communities and never demanded anything other than that their requests be considered in the government’s response to Covid-19. We strongly decry their treatment at the hands of authorities.

Signed,
1. 92 Community (Phnom Penh)
2. 104 Community (Phnom Penh)
3. 105 Community (Phnom Penh)
4. 197 Land Community (Koh Kong)
5. 297 Land Community (Koh Kong)
6. 185K Tita Chambak Thom Community (Kampong Chnang)
7. Activities for Environment Community (AEC)
8. Alliance for Conflict Transformation (ACT)
9. Anlong Run Community (Battambang)
10. Angdoung Thmor Community (Preah Sihanouk)
11. Ang Svay Community (Kampot)
12. Aphivoth Thmei Community (Phnom Penh)
13. Areng Indigenous Community (Koh Kong)
14. Association of Domestic Workers (ADW)
15. Association to Support Vulnerable Women (ASVW)
16. Bat Khteah Community (Preah Sihanouk)
17. Banteay Srey Community (Phnom Penh)
18. Banteay Srei
19. Blog Kanva Thmei Community (Phnom Penh)
20. Boeung Chuk Community (Phnom Penh)
21. Boeung Chuk A Community (Phnom Penh)
22. Boeung Chuk Meanchey Thmei 1 (Phnom Penh)
23. Boeung Chuk Niroth (Phnom Penh)
24. Boeung Kak Community (Kampong Chnang)
25. Boeung Pram Community (Battambang)
26. Bos Sa Am Community (Battambang)
27. Bos Snao Community (Kampong Cham)
28. Borei Keila Community (Phnom Penh)
29. Borei Sontepheap Community (Phnom Penh)
30. Brosre Community (Prey Veng)
31. Buddhism for Peace Organization (BPO)
32. Building Community Voice (BCV)
33. Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Federation of Cambodia (BWTUC)
34. Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions (CATU)
35. Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR)
36. CamASEAN Youth’s Future (CamASEAN)
37. Cambodian Domestic Workers Network (CDWN)
38. Cambodian Food and Service Workers’ Federation (CFSWF)
39. Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC)
40. Cambodia’s Independent Civil Servants Association (CICA)
41. Cambodian Informal Economy Workers Association (CIWA)
42. Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association (CITA)
43. Cambodian Labor Confederation (CLC)
44. Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO)
45. Cambodian Tourism and Service Workers Federation (CTSWF)
46. Cambodia Tourism Workers Union Federation (CTWUF)
47. Cambodia Youth and Monk Network (CYMN)
48. Cambodian Youth Network (CYN)
49. Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (CENTRAL)
50. Chak Krey land Community (Banteay Meanchey)
51. Chamroeun Community (Phnom Penh)
52. Chang Kum 1 Community (Tbong Khmum)
53. Chang Kum Kandal Community (Tbong Khmum)
54. Chek Meas Land Community (Svay Rieng)
55. Cheko Community (Phnom Penh)
56. Cheung Ek Group 3 Community (Phnom Penh)
57. Cheung Ek Group 4 Community (Phnom Penh)
58. Cheung Prey Community (Kampong Cham)
59. Chikor Kraom Land Community (Koh Kong)
60. Chikor Leu Land Community (Koh Kong)
61. Chhuk Sor Community (Siem Reap)
62. Chorm Kravean Community (Kampong Cham)
63. Chray Indigenous Community (Ratanakiri)
64. Chung Ampol Community (Prey Veng)
65. Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union (C. CAWDU)
66. C I 5 Community (Preah Sihanouk)
67. Coalition of Cambodian Farmers Community Association (CCFC)
68. Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (COMFREL)
69. Community for Nature Protection (Pursat)
70. Democratic Union of Worker of Angkor Beer Company
71. Deum Moklue Community (Phnom Penh)
72. Dok Por Community (Kampong Speu)
73. Dombe Community (Tbong Khmum)
74. Equitable Cambodia (EC)
75. Fishery Community (Koh Kong)
76. Fishery Resource Development Community (Kampong Chhnang)
77. Forest and Biodiversity Preservation Community (Svay Rieng)
78. Forestry and Natural Resource Community (Pursat)
79. Forestry Resource Conservation and Development Community (Kampong Chnang)
80. Horng Samnom Community (Kampong Speu)
81. Indigenous Youth Group (IYG)
82. Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA)
83. Independent Monk Network for Social Justice (IMNSJ)
84. Independent Trade Union Federation (INTUFE)
85. Indradevi Association (IDA)
86. Kam Braes Community (Tbong Khmum)
87. Kbal Hongteuk Community (Preah Sihanouk)
88. Kbal Tahean Forestry Community (Pursat)
89. Khmum Srakar Thlok Risey Community (Kampong Thom)
90. Khmer Thavrak
91. Khum Da Community (Kampong Cham)
92. Khva Community (Phnom Penh)
93. Klaing Teuk 78 Community (Siem Reap)
94. Kok Tarea Community (Takev)
95. Koh Sdech Land Community (Koh Kong)
96. Koh Sralao Fishery Community (Koh Kong)
97. Krei Kra Community (Phnom Penh)
98. Labour Right Supported Union Khmer Employee of Nagaworld (L.R.S.U)
99. Land Community (Pailin)
100. Lom Touk Community (Siem Reap)
101. Lor Peang Land Community (Kampong Chhnang)
102. Mean Chey Land Community (Svay Rieng)
103. Minority Rights Organization (MIRO)
104. Mother Nature Cambodia (MNC)
105. Network for Prey Long Protection in Mean Rith Commune (Kampong Thom)
106. Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (NICFEC)
107. Not 1 More (N1M)
108. Orm Laing Community (Kampong Speu)
109. Ou Ampil Land Community (Banteay Meanchey)
110. Ou Chheu Teal Community (Preah Sihanouk)
111. Ou Damrei Community (Preah Sihanouk)
112. Ou Kampuchea Community (Preah Sihanouk)
113. Ou Khsach Community (Preah Sihanouk)
114. Ou Tracheak Chet Community (Preah Sihanouk)
115. Ou Vor Preng Community (Battambang)
116. Peace Bridges Organization (PBO)
117. Peam Rus Community (Kampong Speu)
118. People Center for Development and Peace (PCDP)
119. Phnom Bat Community (Phnom Penh)
120. Phnom Kram Community (Siem Reap)
121. Phnom Torteong Community (Kampot)
122. Phnom Thnort Community (Kampot)
123. Phnom Sleuk Community (Battambang)
124. Phsar Kandal Village Land Community (Banteay Meanchey)
125. Phum 3 Community (Phnom Penh)
126. Phum 17 Community (Phnom Penh)
127. Phum 21 Community (Phnom Penh)
128. Phum Andong Community (Phnom Penh)
129. Phum Baku Community (Phnom Penh)
130. Phum Bo Loy Community (Ratanakiri)
131. Phum Dei Chhnang Community (Kampong Speu)
132. Phum Koh Norea Community (Phnom Penh)
133. Phum Prek Punlea Community (Phnom Penh)
134. Phum Samut Kram Community (Phnom Penh)
135. Phum Sela Khmer Land Community (Banteay Meanchey)
136. Phum Ou Svay Land Community (Banteay Meanchey)
137. Phum Teuk Thla Community (Phnom Penh)
138. Ponlok Khmer (PKH)
139. Prek Ksach Land Community (Koh Kong)
140. Prek Takung 3 Community (Phnom Penh)
141. Prek Takung 60 meters Community (Phnom Penh)
142. Prek Tangov Community (Phnom Penh)
143. Prek Tanou Community (Phnom Penh)
144. Prek Trae Community (Preah Sihanouk)
145. Prey Cheou Ou Domdek Community (Kampong Thom)
146. Prey Lang Community (Kampong Thom)
147. Prey Peay Fishery Community (Kampot)
148. Prey Chher Pich Sangva Laor Chhert Community (Kampong Chnang)
149. Pun Leu Khemara Community (Phnom Penh)
150. Tunlong Community (Kampong Cham)
151. Railway Community (Phnom Penh)
152. Raksmey Samaki Community (Kampong Speu)
153. Rattanak Rokha Forestry Community (Udar Meanchey)
154. Reak Chmamroeun Community (Phnom Penh)
155. Rolous Cherng Ek Community (Phnom Penh)
156. Romdoul Svay Rieng (Svay Rieng)
157. Roum Met Community (Phnom Penh)
158. Rum Cheik Land Community (Siem Reap)
159. Rural Cambodia Technological Support Organisation (RCTSO)
160. Russey Sras Community (Phnom Penh)
161. Sahmakum Teang Tnaut (STT)
162. Samaki 4 Community (Phnom Penh)
163. Samaki Romeas Haek Land Community (Svay Rieng)
164. Samaki Rong Roeung community (Phnom Penh)
165. SAMKY Organization
166. Samrong Meachey Community (Phnom Penh)
167. Samrong Tbong Community (Phnom Penh)
168. Sdey Krom Fishery Community (Battambang)
169. Seang Kveang Community (Prey Veng)
170. Setrey Klaing Sang Community (Phnom Penh)
171. Sen Reakreay Community (Phnom Penh)
172. Smar Sman Community (Phnom Penh)
173. Somros Koh Sdech Fishery Community (Koh Kong)
174. SOS International Airport Community (Phnom Penh)
175. Spean Chhes Community (Preah Sihanouk)
176. Sre Ampel Water Fall Tourism Forestry Community (Kampong Chnang)
177. Sre Prang Community (Tbong Khmum)
178. Steung Bort village Land Community (Banteay Meanchey)
179. Steung Khsach Sor Forestry Resource Community (Kampong Chnang)
180. Steung Meanchey Community (Phnom Penh)
181. Tani Land Community (Siem Reap)
182. Ta Noun Land Community (Koh Kong)
183. Ta Pen Community (Siem Reap)
184. The Cambodian NGO Committee on CEDAW (NGO-CEDAW)
185. Thmor Da Community (Pursat)
186. Thmor Thom Community (Preah Sihanouk)
187. Thmor Koal Community (Phnom Penh)
188. Thnong Land Community (Koh Kong)
189. Toul Rada Community (Phnom Penh)
190. Toul Sambo Aphivoth Community (Phnom Penh)
191. Toul Sangke A Community (Phnom Penh)
192. Toul Sangke B Community (Phnom Penh)
193. Trapaing Anchanh Community (Phnom Penh)
194. Trapaing Chor Community (Phnom Penh)
195. Trapaing Krasaing Land Community (Siem Reap)
196. Trapaing Sangke Community (Kampot)
197. Trapaing Raing Community (Phnom Penh)
198. Trapaing Ropov Community (Kampot)
199. Union Service Workers of ALASKA Massage Center (USWAMC)
200. Union Service Workers of CHEVRON COMPANY (CAMBODIA) LIMITED SIEMREAP (USWCSR)
201. Union of Food and Service of Cambodia Beverage Company LTD

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Release Imprisoned Journalists and End Media Crackdown

May 18, 2020 - We, the undersigned civil society groups, urgently call on the government to drop all charges against imprisoned journalists Sok Oudom and Sovann Rithy and to halt all harassment of other journalists in Cambodia facing prosecution for their critical reporting. We also urge the government to immediately restore the broadcasting licenses of all media outlets revoked before and during this latest assault on press freedom.

Police arrested local radio station owner Sok Oudom in Kampong Chhnang province on Wednesday on charges of “incitement to commit a felony”. Oudom regularly reported on longstanding land disputes between local farming communities and powerful district officials. The day before Oudom’s arrest, the Ministry of Information revoked the media license of his Rithysen Radio Station and its website, despite the fact that Oudom had yet to be charged with any crime.

He remains in pre-trial detention.

The incarceration of Sok Oudom and the abrupt silencing of his media outlet follows the arrest of popular journalist Sovann Rithy in early April for accurately quoting Prime Minister Hun Sen’s own words from a public speech on the government’s response to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Addressing the nation, the Prime Minister publicly and repeatedly stated that the government did not have enough money to support informal workers such as motorcycle taxi drivers through the COVID-19 economic crisis, and advised bankrupt taxi drivers to sell their vehicles in order to survive.

When Rithy reposted the Prime Minister’s remarks on his personal Facebook page, he was arrested that night and charged two days later – again with of “incitement to commit a felony”. Rithy’s news outlet TV FB stripped of its broadcasting license the day after his arrest. Rithy remains in pre-trial detention, having missed the birth of his child while in prison. Both Oudom and Rithy face up to two years in prison if convicted.

By arresting and charging a journalist for publicly quoting the Prime Minister’s own words about the pandemic, the government is sending a clear message that any discussion of the government’s response to the outbreak can and will be punished by imprisonment – a violation of the rights of all Cambodians.

Since the start of the year, at least a dozen journalists have been summoned and questioned by police and judicial authorities as a result of their reporting. The ongoing arrest, detention and judicial harassment of journalists for critical reporting is a serious violation of the Cambodian people’s right to information.

We strongly object to the arbitrary arrest and persecution of any journalist in Cambodia targeted over their reporting. Faced with an unprecedented public health crisis, it is now more important than ever that the government guarantees the right to a free press and freedom of expression. Without journalists who are free to honestly and accurately report on the reality of life in Cambodia during the global COVID-19 pandemic, the public are denied the right to make informed decisions to keep themselves and their families safe.

We call on the government to drop all charges against these journalists and to immediately halt this latest crackdown on press freedom in Cambodia.

Signed,
1. 92 Community (Phnom Penh)
2. 185K Tita Chambak Thom Community (Kampong Chnang)
3. 197 Land Community (Koh Kong)
4. 297 Land Community (Koh Kong)
5. Alliance for Conflict Transformation (ACT)
6. Angdoung Thmor Community (Preah Sihanouk)
7. Angdoung Trabek Land Community (Svay Rieng)
8. Areng Indigenous Community (Koh Kong)
9. Bat Khteah Community (Preah Sihanouk)
10. Boeng Chhuk Community (Phnom Penh)
11. Boeung Kak Community (Kampong Chhnang)
12. Boeung Pram Community (Battambang)
13. Borei Keila Community (Phnom Penh)
14. Bos Sa Am Community (Battambang)
15. Buddhism for Peace Organization (BPO)
16. Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Federation of Cambodia (BWTUC)
17. Building Community Voice (BCV)
18. CamASEAN Youth’s Future (CamASEAN)
19. Cambodia’s Independent Civil Servants Association (CICA)
20. Cambodia Indigineous Youth Association (CIYA) (Ratanakiri)
21. Cambodia Youth and Monk Network (CYMN)
22. Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions (CATU)
23. Cambodian Center for Independent Media (CCIM)
24. Cambodian Domestic Workers Network (CDWN)
25. Cambodian Food and Service Workers’ Federation (CFSWF)
26. Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC)
27. Cambodian Informal Economy Workers Association (CIWA)
28. Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association (CITA)
29. Cambodian Journalists Alliance (CamboJA)
30. Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO)
31. Cambodian Tourism and Service Workers Federation (CTSWF)
32. Cambodian Youth Network (CYN)
33. Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (CENTRAL)
34. Chek Meas Land Community (Svay Rieng)
35. Chikor Kraom Land Community (Koh Kong)
36. Chikor Leu Land Community (Koh Kong)
37. Choeung Prey Community (Kampong Cham)
38. Chorm Kravean Community (Kampong Cham)
39. Chray Indigenous Community (Ratanakiri)
40. Coalition for Integrity and Social Accountability (CISA)
41. Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union (C. CAWDU)
42. Coalition of Cambodian Farmers Community Association (CCFC)
43. Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW)
44. Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (COMFREL)
45. Community for Nature Protection (Pursat)
46. Da Commune Community (Kampong Cham)
47. Dok Por Community (Kampong Speu)
48. Equitable Cambodia (EC)
49. Fishery Community (Koh Kong)
50. Forestry and Natural Resource Community (Pursat)
51. Free Trade Union of Workers of Kingdom of Cambodia (FTUWKC)
52. Horng Samnom Community (Kampong Speu)
53. Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA)
54. Independent Monk Network for Social Justice (IMNSJ)
55. Indradevi Association (IDA)
56. Kbal Tahean Forestry Community (Pursat)
57. Kean Teuk Land Community (Koh Kong)
58. Khmer Thavrak
59. Khmum Srakar Thlok Risey Community (Kampong Thom)
60. Klaing Teuk 78 Community (Siem Reap)
61. Koh Sdech Land Community (Koh Kong)
62. Koh Sralao Fishery Community (Koh Kong)
63. Labour Right Supported Union Khmer Employee of Nagaworld (L.R.S.U)
64. Land Community (Pailin)
65. Lor Peang Land Community (Kampong Chhnang)
66. Mother Nature Cambodia (MNC)
67. Network for Prey Lang Protection in Mean Rith Commune (Kampong Thom)
68. Not 1 More (N1M)
69. Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (NICFEC)
70. Orm Laing Community (Kampong Spue)
71. Ou Ampil Land Community (Banteay Meanchey)
72. Ou Chheu Teal Community (Preah Sihanouk)
73. Ou Tracheak Chet Community (Preah Sihanouk)
74. Ou Vor Preng Community (Battambang)
75. Peace Bridges Organization (PBO)
76. Peam Reus Community (Kampong Speu)
77. Phnom Bat Community (Phnom Penh)
78. Phnom Thnort Community (Kampot)
79. Phsar Kandal Village Land Community (Banteay Meanchey)
80. Phnom Kram Community (Siem Reap)
81. Phnom Sleuk Community (Battambang)
82. Phnom Torteong Community (Kampot)
83. Phum 22 Community (Phnom Penh)
84. Phum Dei Chhnang Community (Kampong Speu)
85. Phum Khva Community (Phnom Penh)
86. Phum Samut Kram Community (Ratanakiri)
87. Phum Ou Svay Land Community (Banteay Meanchey)
88. Phum Prasat Land Community (Banteay Meanchey)
89. Phum Sela Khmer Land Community (Banteay Meanchey)
90. Ponlok Khmer (PKH)
91. Prek Ksach Land Community (Koh Kong)
92. Prek Takung Community (Phnom Penh)
93. Prek Tanou Community (Phnom Penh)
94. Prek Trae Community (Preah Sihanouk)
95. Prey Chher Pich Sangva Laor Chhert Community (Kampong Chhnang)
96. Prey Lang Community (Kampong Thom)
97. Prey Cheou Ou Domdek Community (Kampong Thom)
98. Prey Norin Community (Battambang)
99. Prey Peay Land Community (Kampot)
100. Railway Community (Phnom Penh)
101. Raksmey Samaki Community (Kampong Speu)
102. Rattanak Rokha Forestry Community (Oddar Meanchey)
103. Rum Cheik Land Community (Siem Reap)
104. Russey Sras Community (PP)
105. Samaki 4 Community (Phnom Penh)
106. Samaki Rung Roeung Community (Phnom Penh)
107. Sahmakum Teang Tnaut (STT)
108. Sambok Chab Community (Phnom Penh)
109. Sdey Krom Fishery Community (Battambang)
110. Skun Land Community (Siem Reap)
111. Somros Koh Sdech Fishery Community (Koh Kong)
112. SOS International Airport Community (Phnom Penh)
113. Spean Chhes Community (Preah Sihanouk)
114. Sre Ampel Water Fall Tourism Forestry Community (Kampong Chnang)
115. Sre Prang Community (Tbong Khmum)
116. Steung Bort village Land community (Banteay Meanchey)
117. Steung Khsach Sor Forestry Resource (Kampong Chhnang)
118. Steung Meanchey Community (Phnom Penh)
119. Strey Klaing Sang Community (Phnom Penh)
120. Tani Land Community (Siem Reap)
121. Ta Noun Land Community (Koh Kong)
122. Ta Pen Community (Siem Reap)
123. The Cambodian NGO Committee on CEDAW (NGO-CEDAW)
124. Thnong Land Community (Koh Kong)
125. Trapaing Chor Community (Kampong Speu)
126. Trapaing Krasaing Land Community (Siem Reap)
127. Thmor Da Community (Pursat)
128. Thmor Thom Community (Preah Sihanouk)
129. Toul Rada Community (Phnom Penh)
130. Toul Sangke A Community (PP)
131. Tunlong Community (Kampong Cham)

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Statemen Suspend MFI Debts and Return Land Titles Amid Covid-19 Pandemic

Statement

April 27, 2020 - The suffering of millions of Cambodians who are facing economic hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic is being amplified by the country’s ongoing over-indebtedness crisis, stemming from more than $10 billion in loans from aggressive microfinance institutions (MFIs). More than two and a half million Cambodians currently hold microloans, with an average loan of more than $3,800 – the largest amount in the world. This puts millions of Cambodians’ livelihoods, health and land tenure security at risk.

The government must ensure that MFIs immediately suspend all loan repayments as well as interest accrual on loans for at least three months and return the millions of land titles currently held as collateral by MFIs to their owners. These actions are necessary to ensure that people are able to survive this crisis without risking their health or homes, and are able to avoid further risky loans that could lead to bonded labour, human trafficking and other human rights abuses.

Millions of workers in the tourism, garment and construction sector are facing layoffs and loss of wages. Government efforts to subsidise these losses have so far fallen short of fulfilling workers’ basic needs. Cambodia’s MFI debt – much of it collateralised with millions of borrowers’ land titles – exponentially heightens the short- and long-term risks of this economic crisis.

We recognise the steps already taken by the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) to encourage MFIs to offer re-scheduling and loan deferment on a case-by-case basis, and that Amret Microfinance Institution has announced deferments of both principal and interest payments for three months for some of their borrowers upon request. However, Cambodia has over 80 MFIs, and a case-by-case process will not work fast enough for the 2.6 million borrowers who need immediate relief. A more systematic approach is urgently needed. The NBC and Cambodian government should issue a sector-wide directive ordering MFIs to give all borrowers immediate relief, including returning their most valuable asset – their land titles – and suspending all repayments and interest accrual for at least 3 months, with the possibility of longer-term relief if the crisis continues.

All people, including MFI borrowers, deserve unhindered access to their land titles – now more than ever. The coming months will likely see hundreds of thousands of Cambodians lose jobs or wages in Thailand and Cambodia, and many of these people will return to their homeland in the countryside. Land tenure security has long been a difficult thing to ensure in Cambodia, and the risk posed by microfinance debt is far too pressing to ignore. Immediate steps must be taken to ensure that no one is forced to sell their land to make loan repayments during this economic crisis. The best way to avoid this dispossession crisis is to return land titles held by MFIs to their rightful owners and suspend repayments.

In addition, MFI debt disproportionally affects women, who make up 75% of MFI borrowers in Cambodia. The COVID-19 crisis has already sharply decreased demand in the garment sector, where 80% of the workers are women. While many Cambodians will be worrying about their next meal or how to afford basic necessities in the coming weeks and months, they should not have to worry about making a monthly payment to an MFI ¬– particularly if non-payment could result in the loss of their land.

We understand the suspension of loan payments will have negative effects for MFIs. We also understand they will be taking on additional risk after returning the land titles used as collateral to their owners. However, this risk is commonly carried by MFIs in other countries, which rarely use an asset as fundamental as a land title for microloan collateral. In addition, Cambodia’s MFI sector is highly profitable and has vastly greater access to capital and assistance than the average Cambodian household. All seven of the deposit-taking MFIs – which together hold the vast majority of all MFI loans – are owned by foreign entities, some of which are subsidiaries of some of the largest financial institutions in the world, others of which are European state-owned development banks. As MFIs in Cambodia have long claimed to be invested in the well-being of the poor and vulnerable, this crisis demands that MFIs give immediate relief to their borrowers.

We strongly urge the government and MFIs to prioritise the health and livelihood of Cambodian borrowers above all else by immediately suspending all MFI loan repayments and loan interest accrual for at least three months as well as returning land titles to their rightful owners.

Signed,

1. 92 Community (Phnom Penh)
2. 197 Land Community (Koh Kong)
3. 297 Land Community (Koh Kong)
4. 185K Tita Chambak Thom Community (Kampong Chnang)
5. Alliance for Conflict Transformation (ACT)
6. Anlong Run Community (Battambang)
7. Angdoung Thmor Community (Preah Sihanouk)
8. Boeung Chuk community (Phnom Penh)
9. Boeung Chuk A community (Phnom Penh)
10. Boeung Chuk Meanchey Thmei 2 (Phnom Penh)
11. Boeung Kak Community (Kampong Chhnang)
12. Boeung Pram Community (Battambang)
13. Boeung Trabek 4 community (Phnom Penh)
14. Bos Sa Am Community (Battambang)
15. Borei Sontepheap community (Phnom Penh)
16. Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions (CATU)
17. Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR)
18. Cambodian Food and Service Workers’ Federation (CFSWF)
19. Cambodia’s Independent Civil Servants Association (CICA)
20. Cambodian Informal Economy Workers Association (CIWA)
21. Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association (CITA)
22. Cambodian Labor Confederation (CLC)
23. Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO)
24. Cambodian Tourism and Service Workers Federation (CTSWF)
25. Cambodia Youth and Monk Network (CYMN)
26. Cambodian Youth Network (CYN)
27. Center for Alliance of Labour and Human Rights (CENTRAL)
28. Chak Krey land Community (Banteay Meanchey)
29. Chek Meas Land Community (Svay Rieng)
30. Chikor Kraom Land Community (Koh Kong)
31. Chikor Leu Land Community (Koh Kong)
32. Choeung Prey Community (Kampong Cham)
33. Chorm Kravean Community (Kampong Cham)
34. Chray Indigenous Community (Ratanakiri)
35. C I 5 Community (Preah Sihanouk)
36. Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union (C.CAWDU)
37. Coalition of Cambodian Farmers Community Association (CCFC)
38. Community Peace-Building Network (CPN)
39. Community for Nature Protection (Pursat)
40. Deum Sroul Community (Phnom Penh)
41. Dok Por Community (Kampong Speu)
42. Dombe Community (Tbong Khmum)
43. Equitable Cambodia (EC)
44. Fishery Community (Koh Kong)
45. Fishery Resource Development Community (Kampong Chhnang)
46. Forest and Biodiversity Preservation Community (Svay Rieng)
47. Gender and Development Cambodia (GADC)
48. Horng Samnom Community (Kampong Speu)
49. Indradevi Association (IDA)
50. Indigenous Youth Group (IYG)
51. Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA)
52. Kbal Tahean Forestry Community (Pursat)
53. Kean Teuk Land Community (Koh Kong)
54. Khmum Srakar Thlok Risey Community (Kampong Thom)
55. Khmer Thavrak
56. Klaing Teuk 78 Community (Siem Reap)
57. Koh Sdech Land Community (Koh Kong)
58. Koh Sralao Fishery Community (Koh Kong)
59. Lom Touk Community (Siem Reap)
60. Lor Peang Land Community (Kampong Chhnang)
61. Meanchey Land Community (Svay Rieng)
62. M’lop Tapang
63. Mother Nature Cambodia (MNC)
64. Network for Prey Long Protection in Mean Rith Commune (Kampong Thom)
65. Neutral and Imparial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (NICFEC)
66. Orm Laing Community (Kampong Spue)
67. Ou Ampil Land Community (Banteay Meanchey)
68. Ou Chheu Teal Community (Preah Sihanouk)
69. Ou Khsach Community (Preah Sihanouk)
70. Ou Tracheak Chet Community (Preah Sihanouk)
71. Ou Vor Preng Community (Battambang)
72. Peace Bridges Organization (PBO)
73. Phnom Kram Community (Siem Reap)
74. Phnom Thnort Community (Kampot)
75. Phnom Torteong Community (Kampot)
76. Phnom Sleuk Community (Battambang)
77. Phsar Kandal Village Land Community (Banteay Meanchey)
78. Phum 23 Community (Phnom Penh)
79. Phum Bo Loy Community (Ratanakiri)
80. Phum Dei Chhnang Community (Kampong Speu)
81. Phum Prasat Rang Land Community (Banteay Meanchey)
82. Phum Prasat Land Community (Banteay Meanchey)
83. Phum Sela Khmer Land Community (Banteay Meanchey)
84. Phum Ou Svay Land Community (Banteay Meanchey)
85. Ponlok Khmer (PKH)
86. Prek Ksach Land Community (Koh Kong)
87. Prek Takung Community (Phnom Penh)
88. Prek Takung 3 community (Phnom Penh)
89. Prek Takung 60 meters community (Phnom Penh)
90. Prek Tanou Community (Phnom Penh)
91. Prey Cheou Ou Domdek Community (Kampong Thom)
92. Prey Long Community (Kampong Thom)
93. Prey Peay Fishery Community (Kampot)
94. Tunlong Community (Kampong Cham)
95. Railway community (Phnom Penh)
96. Raksmey Samaki Community (Kampong Speu)
97. Rolous Cherng Ek community (Phnom Penh)
98. Roum Met community (Phnom Penh)
99. Rum Cheik Land Community (Siem Reap)
100. Russey Sras community (Phnom Penh)
101. Sahmakum Teang Tnaut (STT)
102. Samaki 4 Community (Phnom Penh)
103. Samaki 3.1 community (Phnom Penh)
104. Samaki Romeas Haek Land Community (Svay Rieng)
105. Samaki Rong Roeung community (Phnom Penh)
106. Samrong Meachey (Phnom Penh)
107. Samrong Tbong community (Phnom Penh)
108. Sdey Krom Fishery Community (Battambang)
109. Setrey Klaing Sang community (Phnom Penh)
110. Sen Rekreay community (Phnom Penh)
111. Smar Sman community (Phnom Penh)
112. Skun Land Community (Siem Reap)
113. Somros Koh Sdech Fishery Community (Koh Kong)
114. SOS International Airport Community (Phnom Penh)
115. Spean Chhes Community (Preah Sihanouk)
116. Sre Ampel Water Fall Tourism Forestry Community (Kampong Chnang)
117. Sre Prang Community (Tboung Khmum)
118. Steung Bort village Land community (Banteay Meanchey)
119. Steung Khsach Sor Forestry Resource (Kampong Chhnang)
120. Steung Meanchey community (Phnom Penh)
121. Tani Land Community (Siem Reap)
122. Ta Noun Land Community (Koh Kong)
123. The Cambodian NGO Committee on CEDAW (NGO-CEDAW)
124. Thmor Da Community (Pursat)
125. Thmor Thom Community (Preah Sihanouk)
126. Thnong Land Community (Koh Kong)
127. Toul Rada Community (Phnom Penh)
128. Toul Sangke A community (Phnom Penh)
129. Toul Sangke B Community (Phnom Penh)
130. Trapaing Chor Community (Kampong Speu)
131. Trapaing Krasaing Land Community (Siem Reap)
132. Trapaing Sangke Community (Kampot)
133. Trapaing Raing community (Phnom Penh)
134. Trapaing Ropov Community (Kampot)
135. Rural Cambodia Technological Support Organisation (RCTSO)

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Joint Statement 85 CSOs On Political Economic Human Right and Democracy situation in Cambodia


Phnom Penh, June 3, 2019: We, the undersigned Non-Governmental Organizations, Associations, Trade Unions, Members of the Cambodian Civil Society and citizens are deeply concerned about the current political and economic situation in Cambodia after respect for human rights and democratic principles has declined following the 2018 general elections in which a group of politicians that has the support of almost half of population of Cambodia in the 2013 general election and the 2017 commune election] was dissolved and banned from engaging in political activities and participating in the 2018 general election, as well as the closure of independent media outlets and the baseless accusation of the civil society of having a colour revolution inclination. If this situation continues, Cambodia could well face economic sanctions, insecurity and instability as in the past.

According to the Paris Peace Accords of October 23, 1991 and Cambodia’s 1993 Constitution, the Kingdom of Cambodia must adhere to the principles of liberal democracy, pluralism, and respect for human rights. The decline of the human rights situation, the recent intimidation of human rights and political activists have shown that the situation is getting worse as testified by repeated and insistent calls by the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights, the European Union and several signatories to the Paris Peace Accords on the Government of Cambodia to restore the human rights situation and democracy so as to avoid the loss of the current preferential tariff preferential treatment.

We recall and wholly support the spirit of the Paris Peace Accords which stipulate that the country's development must be linked to respect for human rights and democracy in order to prevent the repeat of the country’s bitter history. Implementing democratic principles should ensure equal participation of all citizens and political parties without discrimination in the process of free and fair elections. Free and fair elections are the only mechanism to ensure that only the sovereign Cambodian people will decide on the future destiny of the nation, and to avoid the use of violence in any competition for power.

Cambodia's history has shown that the lack of mechanisms of free and fair elections brought harrowing suffering, family separations and deaths to the Cambodian people during the Cold War. It is this bitter experience that actually gave birth to these Paris Peace Accords. The governance and development of the country without regard to human rights and genuine democracy can lead Cambodia to descend into the same tragedy as in the past.

Therefore, we call upon all leaders, civil servants, stakeholders, and Cambodian citizens of all political tendencies, who are masters of the nation’s destiny, to join forces to protect and uplift the spirit of the Paris Peace Accords and the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia. Furthermore, the Cambodian government should negotiate with the European Union and the international community to address the political and democratic issues in Cambodia so as, for the benefit of all Cambodians, to avoid losing the EBA and GSP preferential tariff treatment.

Endorsed by:

1. Dr. Meas Nee, Independent Commentator

2. Dr. Loa Monghay, Independent Commentator

3. Mr. Sok Sam Oeun, Acting President of Executive Committee Members of (COMFREL)

4. The Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC)

5. Centre of Alliance for Labor and Human Rights (CENTRAL)

6. Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (COMFREL)

7. The People Center for Development and Peace (PDP-CENTER)

8. Youth Resource Development Program Cambodia (YRDP)

9. Coalition of Cambodian Farmers Community Association (CCFC)

10. The Cambodian Human Rights Action Coalition (CHRAC)

11. Cambodia Alliance of Trade Union (CATU)

12. Independent Democratic of Informal Economy Association (IDEA)

13. Cambodia Domestic Workers Network (CDWN)

14. The Cambodian Food and Service Workers Federation (CFSWF)

15. Cambodia's Independent Civil Servant Association (CICA)

16. Ponlok Khmer (PKH)

17. Minority Rights Organization (MIRO)

18. Cambodian Youth Network (CYN)

19. Youth Coalition for Unity and Development (YCUD)

20. Coalition for Integrity and Social Accountability (CISA)

21. Community Development for Peace and Sustainability (CDPS)

22. Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (NICFEC)

23. Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Federation of Cambodia (BWTUC)

24. Cambodia Tourism Workers Union Federation (CTUWF)

25. Union Alliance of Labor (UCL)

26. Cambodian Grassroots Cross-sector Network (CGCN)

27. Kemley Foundation (KLF)

28. Labor Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employee of Nagaworld (L.R.S.U)

29. Dei Tali Chek Meas Community of Svaychrum District Svay Rieng Province

30. Samaki C.E.5 Community of Sihanouk Province

31. Prek Tabek, Tamor Thom, Andoung Tek Community of Preynob District Sihanouk Province

32. Dei Tali O Damrei Community of Steunghav District Sihanouk Province

33. Samaki Romeas Hek Community of Svay Rieng Province

34. Kasikor Tomloung Srok Memot Community of Tboung Khmom Province

35. O’da Kampuchea Srok Prey noup Community of Sihanouk Province

36. Community-Based Human Rights and Land Development in Kandal Steung District, Kandal Province

37. Kasikor Samroung Meanchey Community in Svay Chroum District of Svay Rieng Province

38. Kasikor Sré Brang Community in Dambé District of Tboung Khmom Province

39. Dei Tali Kbalhong Tik Community in Pry Noup district of Sihanouk Province

40. Dei Tali O-Kasach Community in Steung Hav District of Sihanouk Province

41. Prek Treng in Strung Hav Community district of Sihanouk Province.

42. O’ Trachak Chet Community in Prey Noup district of Sihanouk Province

43. Dei Tali Bat Ka Tas Community in Prey Noup district of Sihanouk Province

44. Andoung Tamor Community in Prey Noup district of Sihanouk Province

45. Dei Tali Spean Ches Community in Sihanouk district of Sihanouk Province

46. Dei Tali Omlang Community in Tapong district of Kampong Speu Province

47. Dei Tali Traping Chour Community in Oral district of Kampong Speu Province

48. Dei Tali Rasmey Samaki Community in Oral District of Kampong Speu Province

49. Kror Vean Land Community, Memot Dostrict, Tboung Kkmum Province

50. Chong Khum 1 Commune, Memot District, Tboungkhum Province

51. Samaky Andong Trabek Land Cummunity, Remeasheak, Svay Reing Province

52. Meanchey Community, Romdoul Commune, Svay Reing Province

53. Kampong Umpel Land and Forest Conservation Community, Romdoul Commune, Svay Reing Province

54. Thamor Thom Community, Andoung Tek Prek Trabek, Preynop, Sihanouckville

55. Kampong Umpel, Kaychreach Communue, Prey Veng Province

56. Sang Kveng farmer Community, Kamchaymea, Prey Veng Province

57. Prosre Community, Bhaphnom, Prey Veng

58. Ang Svay Farmer Cummunity, Chouk Commune, Kampot Province

59. Kok Tharea Community, Samrong Commune, Takeo Province

60. Veay Chhanas Community, Sarong Commune, Takeo Province

61. Cambodia Human Rights Task Forces (CHRTF)

62. Cambodian Migrant Alliance (CMA)

63. Farmers Association for Livelihood of Development (FALD)

64. Trapeng Threa Farmer Community, Samrong Commune, Takeo Province

65. Kandal Farmer Community, Samrong Commune, Takeo Province

66. Kanleng Kla Farmer Community, Bati Commune, Takeo Province

67. Doug Por Farmer Community, Samrong Commune, Takeo

68. Trapeng Krosang Farmer Community, Bati Commune, Takeo Province

69. Action Networks for Community, Preah Vihear Province

70. Prey Preach Roka Community Networks, Preah Vihear Province

71. Forest Community Networks, Preah Vihear Province

72. Ingenious Community Networks, Preah Vihear Province

73. Malour Prey Network

74. Civil Society Networks, Preah Vihear Province

75. Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL)

76. National Fisheries Solidarity Movement, Sri Lanka. National Convener

77. Struggle to Economize Future Environment (SEFE), Cameroon

78. The People Coalition Food for Sovereignty

79. Asia Peasant Coalition (Philippine)

80. Youth for Food Sovereignty

81. Peasant Coalition Mekong River (Thailand)

82. All Nepal Youth Peasants' Federation

83. National Alliance of People's Movements (India)

84. Farm Workers Federation of Labor Rights Sector of the People of India

85. People Solidarity for Equitab of Pakistan

Phnom Penh, June 3, 2019: We, the undersigned Non-Governmental Organizations, Associations, Trade Unions, Members of the Cambodian Civil Society and citizens are deeply concerned about the current political and economic situation in Cambodia after respect for human rights and democratic principles has declined following the 2018 general elections in which a group of politicians that has the support of almost half of population of Cambodia in the 2013 general election and the 2017 commune election] was dissolved and banned from engaging in political activities and participating in the 2018 general election, as well as the closure of independent media outlets and the baseless accusation of the civil society of having a colour revolution inclination. If this situation continues, Cambodia could well face economic sanctions, insecurity and instability as in the past.

According to the Paris Peace Accords of October 23, 1991 and Cambodia’s 1993 Constitution, the Kingdom of Cambodia must adhere to the principles of liberal democracy, pluralism, and respect for human rights. The decline of the human rights situation, the recent intimidation of human rights and political activists have shown that the situation is getting worse as testified by repeated and insistent calls by the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights, the European Union and several signatories to the Paris Peace Accords on the Government of Cambodia to restore the human rights situation and democracy so as to avoid the loss of the current preferential tariff preferential treatment.

We recall and wholly support the spirit of the Paris Peace Accords which stipulate that the country's development must be linked to respect for human rights and democracy in order to prevent the repeat of the country’s bitter history. Implementing democratic principles should ensure equal participation of all citizens and political parties without discrimination in the process of free and fair elections. Free and fair elections are the only mechanism to ensure that only the sovereign Cambodian people will decide on the future destiny of the nation, and to avoid the use of violence in any competition for power.

Cambodia's history has shown that the lack of mechanisms of free and fair elections brought harrowing suffering, family separations and deaths to the Cambodian people during the Cold War. It is this bitter experience that actually gave birth to these Paris Peace Accords. The governance and development of the country without regard to human rights and genuine democracy can lead Cambodia to descend into the same tragedy as in the past.

Therefore, we call upon all leaders, civil servants, stakeholders, and Cambodian citizens of all political tendencies, who are masters of the nation’s destiny, to join forces to protect and uplift the spirit of the Paris Peace Accords and the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia. Furthermore, the Cambodian government should negotiate with the European Union and the international community to address the political and democratic issues in Cambodia so as, for the benefit of all Cambodians, to avoid losing the EBA and GSP preferential tariff treatment.

Endorsed by:

1. Dr. Meas Nee, Independent Commentator

2. Dr. Loa Monghay, Independent Commentator

3. Mr. Sok Sam Oeun, Acting President of Executive Committee Members of (COMFREL)

4. The Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC)

5. Centre of Alliance for Labor and Human Rights (CENTRAL)

6. Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (COMFREL)

7. The People Center for Development and Peace (PDP-CENTER)

8. Youth Resource Development Program Cambodia (YRDP)

9. Coalition of Cambodian Farmers Community Association (CCFC)

10. The Cambodian Human Rights Action Coalition (CHRAC)

11. Cambodia Alliance of Trade Union (CATU)

12. Independent Democratic of Informal Economy Association (IDEA)

13. Cambodia Domestic Workers Network (CDWN)

14. The Cambodian Food and Service Workers Federation (CFSWF)

15. Cambodia's Independent Civil Servant Association (CICA)

16. Ponlok Khmer (PKH)

17. Minority Rights Organization (MIRO)

18. Cambodian Youth Network (CYN)

19. Youth Coalition for Unity and Development (YCUD)

20. Coalition for Integrity and Social Accountability (CISA)

21. Community Development for Peace and Sustainability (CDPS)

22. Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (NICFEC)

23. Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Federation of Cambodia (BWTUC)

24. Cambodia Tourism Workers Union Federation (CTUWF)

25. Union Alliance of Labor (UCL)

26. Cambodian Grassroots Cross-sector Network (CGCN)

27. Kemley Foundation (KLF)

28. Labor Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employee of Nagaworld (L.R.S.U)

29. Dei Tali Chek Meas Community of Svaychrum District Svay Rieng Province

30. Samaki C.E.5 Community of Sihanouk Province

31. Prek Tabek, Tamor Thom, Andoung Tek Community of Preynob District Sihanouk Province

32. Dei Tali O Damrei Community of Steunghav District Sihanouk Province

33. Samaki Romeas Hek Community of Svay Rieng Province

34. Kasikor Tomloung Srok Memot Community of Tboung Khmom Province

35. O’da Kampuchea Srok Prey noup Community of Sihanouk Province

36. Community-Based Human Rights and Land Development in Kandal Steung District, Kandal Province

37. Kasikor Samroung Meanchey Community in Svay Chroum District of Svay Rieng Province

38. Kasikor Sré Brang Community in Dambé District of Tboung Khmom Province

39. Dei Tali Kbalhong Tik Community in Pry Noup district of Sihanouk Province

40. Dei Tali O-Kasach Community in Steung Hav District of Sihanouk Province

41. Prek Treng in Strung Hav Community district of Sihanouk Province.

42. O’ Trachak Chet Community in Prey Noup district of Sihanouk Province

43. Dei Tali Bat Ka Tas Community in Prey Noup district of Sihanouk Province

44. Andoung Tamor Community in Prey Noup district of Sihanouk Province

45. Dei Tali Spean Ches Community in Sihanouk district of Sihanouk Province

46. Dei Tali Omlang Community in Tapong district of Kampong Speu Province

47. Dei Tali Traping Chour Community in Oral district of Kampong Speu Province

48. Dei Tali Rasmey Samaki Community in Oral District of Kampong Speu Province

49. Kror Vean Land Community, Memot Dostrict, Tboung Kkmum Province

50. Chong Khum 1 Commune, Memot District, Tboungkhum Province

51. Samaky Andong Trabek Land Cummunity, Remeasheak, Svay Reing Province

52. Meanchey Community, Romdoul Commune, Svay Reing Province

53. Kampong Umpel Land and Forest Conservation Community, Romdoul Commune, Svay Reing Province

54. Thamor Thom Community, Andoung Tek Prek Trabek, Preynop, Sihanouckville

55. Kampong Umpel, Kaychreach Communue, Prey Veng Province

56. Sang Kveng farmer Community, Kamchaymea, Prey Veng Province

57. Prosre Community, Bhaphnom, Prey Veng

58. Ang Svay Farmer Cummunity, Chouk Commune, Kampot Province

59. Kok Tharea Community, Samrong Commune, Takeo Province

60. Veay Chhanas Community, Sarong Commune, Takeo Province

61. Cambodia Human Rights Task Forces (CHRTF)

62. Cambodian Migrant Alliance (CMA)

63. Farmers Association for Livelihood of Development (FALD)

64. Trapeng Threa Farmer Community, Samrong Commune, Takeo Province

65. Kandal Farmer Community, Samrong Commune, Takeo Province

66. Kanleng Kla Farmer Community, Bati Commune, Takeo Province

67. Doug Por Farmer Community, Samrong Commune, Takeo

68. Trapeng Krosang Farmer Community, Bati Commune, Takeo Province

69. Action Networks for Community, Preah Vihear Province

70. Prey Preach Roka Community Networks, Preah Vihear Province

71. Forest Community Networks, Preah Vihear Province

72. Ingenious Community Networks, Preah Vihear Province

73. Malour Prey Network

74. Civil Society Networks, Preah Vihear Province

75. Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL)

76. National Fisheries Solidarity Movement, Sri Lanka. National Convener

77. Struggle to Economize Future Environment (SEFE), Cameroon

78. The People Coalition Food for Sovereignty

79. Asia Peasant Coalition (Philippine)

80. Youth for Food Sovereignty

81. Peasant Coalition Mekong River (Thailand)

82. All Nepal Youth Peasants' Federation

83. National Alliance of People's Movements (India)

84. Farm Workers Federation of Labor Rights Sector of the People of India

85. People Solidarity for Equitab of Pakistan

Day Of The Landless 2019: Reclaim Our Lands, Reclaim Our Future!

29 March 2019 1

(Today, 29 March, is the DAY OF THE LANDLESS. It marks the founding anniversary of the Asian Peasant Coalition and the launching of the No Land, No Life! campaign. One hundred twenty-six organizations composed of 18 global and regional groups and networks and 108 national and local organizations from 24 countries in Asia and the Pacific, Africa, Latin America, North America and Europe are issuing the following statement to commemorate this important date in the struggle of rural communities around the world for land and resources.)

We face today a world of increasing repression of rural communities and worsening threats to their rights to land and resources. We witness how landless peasants, farmers, farm workers, indigenous people, fishers, rural women and youth, and other marginalized rural sectors greatly suffer under authoritarian populist regimes. We see how massive infrastructure projects and agricultural “development” programs, many funded through onerous foreign debt and investments, displace rural peoples from their lands, livelihoods and cultures – all in the name of imperialist domination and plunder, local elite rule and private profits.

The neoliberal restructuring of agriculture endures through programs bankrolled by multilateral financial institutions such as the World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB) as well as through new regional trade and investment agreements like the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). Global powers – now counting emergent China – and their corporations continue to intensify their endless pursuit of and competition for control and exploitation of the world’s natural resources, including lands and all the wealth these hold and can produce.

All this feeds the unabated concentration (or reconcentration in the case of countries that attempted land reform) of land in the hands of a few at the expense of the vast majority who actually till and enrich the lands for generations. Latest available estimates show that of the 570 million farms worldwide, 475 million are small holder farms (i.e. less than two hectares). While comprising more than 83% of the total number of farms, these small holder farms only operate about 12% of the world’s agricultural land.2

However, structural issues, chief among them landlessness or lack of effective control over land and resources, push those who actually make these lands productive into perpetual and increasing poverty and hunger. While small farms are concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia and could produce almost three-fourths of food commodities globally, these same regions account for 95% of the rural poor.3 Overall, eight out of every 10 of the world’s poorest live the rural areas, based on latest estimates.4

Many of the rural displacements are often accompanied by criminalization of land conflicts, militarization and systemic violence perpetrated by governments and foreign business and elite interests. It is not a coincidence that regions where foreign and domestic land deals for mining and plantation operations, economic land concessions, industrial zones, infrastructure development projects and others are also the same regions with the highest incidence of human rights atrocities related to land conflicts and struggles. This has been the case in Asia, Africa and Latin America which accounted for 78% of total number of land deals (74% in terms of size), based on the latest Land Matrix data.5 These same regions were also those monitored by PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP) in 2018 with reported human rights violations related to land conflicts and struggles including killings (63 cases with 98 victims); arrests, detention and legal persecution (37 cases with 136 victims); and threats, harassments and physical assault (24 cases with 50 victims).6

But we also face the world today with even greater resolve and determination to reclaim our lands and future. We witness how movements of oppressed and exploited rural peoples in various countries push back against the onslaught of land and resource grabbing despite of and amid the systematic killings, persecution and harassment of their ranks. We see them march from their farms and villages to the capitals and urban centers to exact accountability from public officials and assert people’s sovereignty, declare their demands and fight for both urgent and long-term policy reforms.

Land occupation and collective cultivation campaigns in Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand persist despite the massacres, threat, and intimidation. In Brazil, campesinos occupying and cultivating disputed lands have been defying eviction orders by agrarian courts and in some cases successfully reversed the orders. Across India, tens of thousands of farmers are participating in a series of historic marches to demand, among others, that the government recognize their right to land and to stop infrastructure projects that cause their dislocation. In Cambodia, communities continue their resistance against land grabbing by foreign firms including through the filing of landmark court cases and class-action lawsuits.7 These are just some of the stories of resistance and to be sure many others are happening as rural communities around the world carry on their struggle for land and life.

Today, we mark the Day of the Landless to celebrate and highlight the struggles and victories of peasant movements in the world against landlessness and poverty; against oppression and exploitation; and against imperialist and feudal rule. We mark the Day of the Landless to let the world recognize our legitimate demands for land to the tiller and genuine agrarian reform; for food sovereignty; and for people’s rights and democracy.

Today, we reaffirm our commitment to reclaim our lands and our future from the powerful forces that took them away.

Endorsed by the following

Global and regional networks –Asian Peasant Coalition

PAN Asia Pacific

Global and regional networks –

  1. Asian Peasant Coalition
  2. People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty
  3. PAN Asia Pacific
  4. People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty
  5. Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants
  6. Asia Pacific Research Network
  7. Asian Rural Women’s Coalition
  8. Association for Women’s Rights in Development
  9. Coalition of Agricultural Workers International
  10. Eastern and Southern Africa Small Scale Farmers Forum
  11. Food Sovereignty in Action Europe
  12. Future Earth Network Asia
  13. GRAIN
  14. IBON International
  15. International Women’s Alliance
  16. PAN North America
  17. PAN Africa
  18. The Reality of Aid Network
  19. Youth for Food Sovereignty

National organizations

  1. Rural Women’s Association (Afghanistan)
  2. Bangladesh Adivasi Samity
  3. Bangladesh Agricultural Farm Labour Federation
  4. Bangladesh Bhumihin Samity
  5. Bangladesh Kishani Sabha
  6. Bangladesh Krishok Federation
  7. BARCIK (Bangladesh)
  8. Centre for Coastal Environment Conservation (Bangladesh)
  9. National Women Farmers & Workers Association (Bangladesh)
  10. SHISUK (Bangladesh)
  11. UBINIG Policy Research for Alternative Development (Bangladesh)
  12. Réseau des Acteurs du Développement Durable (Cameroon)
  13. Struggle to Economize Future Environment (Cameroon)
  14. SYNAPARCAM (Cameroon)
  15. l’ONG Jeunes Volontaires pour l’Environnement (Côte d’Ivoire)
  16. Cambodian Grassroots Cross-Sector Network (Cambodia)
  17. Cambodia Human Rights Task Force (Cambodia)
  18. CEDAC (Cambodia)
  19. Coalition of Cambodian Farmers Community Cambodia)
  20. Community Development for Peace and Sustainability (Cambodia)
  21. Ponlok Khmer (Cambodia)
  22. Red Nacional de Agricultura Familiar (Colombia)
  23. Enlaces Por La Sustenabilidad (El Salvador)
  24. Muyissi Environment (Gabon)
  25. Andhra Pradesh Vyavsaya Vruthidarula Union (India)
  26. AP Matyakarula Union (India)
  27. BERAS India Network (India)
  28. Centre for Community Economics and Development Consultants (India)
  29. Center for Research and Advocacy Manipur (India)
  30. HOPE (India)
  31. Kudumbam (India)
  32. LEISA Network Tamil Nadu (India)
  33. MIJARC (India)
  34. National Centre for Labour (India)
  35. NISARGA (India)
  36. North-East Affected Area Development Society (India)
  37. Prayatna Samiti (India)
  38. SEEDS (India)
  39. Society for Rural Education and Development (India)
  40. Tamil Nadu Women’s Forum (India)
  41. Tamil Nadu Dalit Women’s Movement (India)
  42. Tamil Nadu Women Farmers Rights Front (India)
  43. Telengana Vyavasaya Vruthidarula Union (India)
  44. Rural Workers Movement (India)
  45. SAHANIAVASA (India)
  46. Aliansi Gerakan Reforma Agraria (Indonesia)
  47. Delapan Institute (Indonesia)
  48. Front Mahasiswa Nasional (Indonesia)
  49. Front Perjuangan Rakyat (Indonesia)
  50. Gabungan Serikat Buruh (Indonesia)
  51. INDIES (Indonesia)
  52. International Treatment Preparedment Coalition (Indonesia)
  53. Jaringan Tani Hutan Jambewangi (Indonesia)
  54. Lembaga Bantuan Hukum (Indonesia)
  55. National Democratic People (Indonesia)
  56. OPPUK (Indonesia)
  57. Paguyuban Masyarakat Rumpin (Indonesia)
  58. Palangkaraya Ecological And Human Rights Studies (Indonesia)
  59. Persatuan Petani Moro Way Serdang (Indonesia)
  60. Serikat Tani Hambalang (Indonesia)
  61. SERUNI (Indonesia)
  62. Tananua Flores Foundation (Indonesia)
  63. Forum of Women’s NGOs (Kyrgyzstan)
  64. Borneo Dayak Forum International (Malaysia)
  65. Gita Pertwii (Malaysia)
  66. Mondopiton Agro Paradise Organisation (Malaysia)
  67. North South Initiative (Malaysia)
  68. PONGUNSUB (Malaysia)
  69. Society for Rights of Indigenous People of Sarawak (Malaysia)
  70. Tenaganita (Malaysia)
  71. Centre for Human Rights and Development (Mongolia)
  72. Kalyana Mitta Development Foundation ( Myanmar)
  73. Caritas Nepal
  74. National Campaign for Sustainable Development (Nepal)
  75. Social Work Institute (Nepal)
  76. GE Free NZ in Food and Environment (New Zealand)
  77. Human Unity Movement (Pakistan)
  78. Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (Pakistan)
  79. Roots for Equity (Pakistan)
  80. Roshni Tariqiyati Tanzeem (Pakistan)
  81. Sojhla for Social Change (Pakistan)
  82. Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women (Philippines)
  83. Center for Environmental Concerns (Philippines)
  84. Center for Women’s Resources (Philippines)
  85. Federation of Free Workers – ITUC (Philippines)
  86. International League of Peoples Struggles – Philippines
  87. Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (Philippines)
  88. MASIPAG (Philippines)
  89. MASIPAG Mindanao (Philippines)
  90. National Federation of Sugar Workers (Philippines)
  91. Philippine Network of Food Security Programmes, Inc (Philippines)
  92. SIBAT (Philippines)
  93. Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (Philippines)
  94. E Consumer (South Korea)
  95. Human Development Organization (Sri Lanka)
  96. National Fisheries Solidarity Organization (Sri Lanka)
  97. Vikalpani National Women’s Federation (Sri Lanka)
  98. Women Solidarity Front (Sri Lanka)
  99. Women Solidarity Union (Sri Lanka)
  100. Manushya Foundation (Thailand)
  101. Alternative Agriculture Network (Thailand)
  102. Support for Women in Agriculture and Environment (Uganda)
  103. Community Alliance for Global Justice (USA)
  104. Farmworker Association of Florida (USA)
  105. Land Stewardship Project (USA)
  106. Caritas of Dalat (Vietnam)
  107. Center for Sustainable Community Development (Vietnam)
  108. Research Centre for Gender, Family and Environment in Development (Vietnam)

Joint Statement on the EU's decision to start the process of suspending Cambodia's access to its preferential Everything But Arms (EBA) agreement.

Phnom Penh, Date: March 19, 2019

We, the undersigned Non-Governmental Organisations, Associations, Trade Unions, Members of the Cambodian Civil Society, and citizens are deeply concerned about the launch of the European Union (EU) Commission’s procedure to temporarily suspend Cambodia’s access to its Everything But Arms (EBA) trade agreement.

The EU has indeed expressed its concerns over the crackdown on democracy and human rights including the repression of the political opposition, media and civic space in light of the general elections of July 2018. The EU has repeatedly reminded Cambodia that respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including labour rights was a crucial part of the granting of EU trade preferences. In July 2018, the European Union assessed the human rights and labour rights situation in Cambodia in response to serious concerns about the undermining of democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law in Cambodia and requested the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) to fulfil some conditions in addition to bringing back democracy and the respect of human rights in the country. On 11 February 2019, in view of the RGC’s failure in fulfilling its obligations under the EBA agreement and the continuing deterioration of the human rights situation in Cambodia, the EU Commission officially announced the beginning of the tariff preferences removal process.

As defenders of fundamental rights and labour rights, we fully understand the European Union’ position and decision. However, we are deeply worried that the EBA suspension will directly and negatively impact Cambodian people’s welfare and livelihood.

We believe that this situation can be avoided if the RGC takes appropriate steps to fulfil its obligations towards its citizens and effectively implement the Cambodian Constitution, especially Article 31 stating that “The Kingdom of Cambodia recognizes and respects human rights as enshrined in the United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human rights, and all the treaties and conventions related to human rights, women’s rights and children’s rights […] “, Articles 41 and 42 which guarantee the fundamental freedoms of association, expression and assembly, as well as Article 52 stating that “ […] The State shall give priority to the improvement of the living conditions and welfare of citizens”.

Therefore, we, the undersigned Cambodian Civil Society Organisations, Associations, Trade Unions, Members of the Cambodian Civil Society and citizens call on to the RGC to take concrete measures to restore civic space in Cambodia, and guarantee the protection and fulfilment of human rights and labour rights to ensure Cambodian people’s welfare and livelihood.

Supported by:

1. The Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC)

2. Mr. Sok Sam Oeun, Acting President of Executive Committee Members of (COMFREL)

3. Dr. Meas Nee, Independent Commentator

4. Dr. Loa Monghay, Independent Commentator

5. The People Center for Development and Peace (PDP-CENTER)

6. Coalition of Cambodian Farmers Community Association (CCFC)

7. Youth Resource Development Program (YRDP) Cambodia

8. Cambodian Center for Independent Media (CCIM)

9. Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (COMFREL)

10. The Cambodian Food and Service Workers Federation (CFSWF)

11. The Cambodian Human Rights Action Coalition (CHRAC)

12. Cambodian Indigenous People Organization (CIPO)

13. Cambodian Indigenous Youth Association (CIYA)

14. People and Knowledge of Highlanders (PKH)

15. The Khmer Leather Association (HA)

16. Centre of Alliance for Labor and Human Rights (CENTRAL)

17. Minority Rights Organization (MIRO)

18. Cambodia's Independent Civil Servant Association (CICA)

19. Cambodian Youth Network (CYN)

20. Coalition for Integrity and Social Accountability (CISA)

21. Community Development for Peace and Sustainability (CDPS)

22. Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (NICFEC)

23. Kemley Foundation

24. Cambodia Alliance of Trade Union (CATU)

25. Union Alliance of Labor (UCL)

26. Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Federation of Cambodia (BWTUC)

27. Independent Democratic of Informal Economy Association (IDEA)

28. Fee Trade Union of Workers of Kingdom of Cambodia (FTUWKC)

29. Cambodia Tourism Workers Union Federation (CTUWF)

30. Independent Trade Union Federation (INTUFE)

31. Cambodia Transportation Worker’s Federation (CTWF)

32. Cambodia Domestic Workers Network (CDWN)

33. Coalition Free Trade Union of Women Textile (CFTUWT)

34. National Independent Federation of Textile Union of Cambodia (NIFTUC)

35. Cambodia Independent Teacher Association (CITA)

36. Labor Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employee of Nagaworld (L.R.S.U)

37. Kasikor Samaki Chek Meas Community of Svay Rieng Province

38. Samaki C.E.5 Community of Sihanouk Province

39. Dei Tali O Kampuchea Community of Sihanouk Province

40. Prek Tabek Tamor Thom Community of Sihanouk Province

41. Dei Tali O Damrei Community of Sihanouk Province

42. Samaki Romeas Hek Community of Svay Rieng Province

43. Kasikor Tomloung Srok Memot Community of Tboung Khmom Province

44. O’da Kampuchea Srok Prey noup Community of Sihanouk Province

45. Community-Based Human Rights and Land Development in Kandal Steung District, Kandal Province

46. Kasikor Samroung Meanchey Community in Svay Chroum District of Svay Rieng Province

47. Kasikor Sré Brang Community in Dambé District of Tboung Khmom Province

48. Dei Tali Kbalhong Tik Community in Pry Noup district of Sihanouk Province

49. Dei Tali O-Kasach Community in Steung Hav District of Sihanouk Province

50. Prek Treng in Strung Hav Community district of Sihanouk Province.

51. O’ Trachak Chet Community in Prey Noup district of Sihanouk Province

52. Dei Tali Bat Ka Tas Community in Prey Noup district of Sihanouk Province

53. Andoung Tamor Community in Prey Noup district of Sihanouk Province

54. Dei Tali Spean Ches Community in Sihanouk district of Sihanouk Province

55. Dei Tali Omlang Community in Tapong district of Kampong Speu Province

56. Traping Chour Community in Oral district of Kampong Speu Province

57. Rasmey Samaki Community in Oral District of Kampong Speu Province

58. Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL)

59. National Fisheries Solidarity Movement, Sri Lanka. National Convener

60. Struggle to Economize Future Environment (SEFE), Cameroon

61. The People Coalition Food for Sovereignty

62. Asia Peasant Coalition (Philippine)

63. Youth for Food Sovereignty (Philippine)

64. Peasant Coalition Mekong River (Thailand)

65. All Nepal Youth Peasants' Federation

66. National Alliance of People's Movements

67. ANDHRA PRADESH VYVASAYA VRUTHIDARULA UNION

68. Roots for Equity/PKMT

69. ASEAN Service Employees Trade Union Council (ASETUC)

70. Building and Wood Workers' International (BWI)

71. UNI Global Union (UNI)