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Human Rights in Cambodia

From LICADHOs report Attacks and Threats Against Human Rights Defenders in Cambodia 2013-2014 released in December 2015: “As human rights defenders continue to play crucial roles in challenging state abuses, Cambodian authorities have continued to use violence, intimidation and Cambodia’s corrupt criminal justice system to halt their activities and silence their voices. 2013 and 2014 in Cambodia were dominated by the preparation for, and repercussions of, the highly contested 2013 National Elections. Hundreds of thousands of Cambodians took to the streets to demand change, but as 2013 drew to a close, authorities increasingly met protests with violence – a pattern that would continue into 2014.

A few days into 2014, Cambodian authorities launched an attack on freedom of assembly itself, including a blanket ban on public gatherings for the first half of 2014. State-perpetrated violence against human rights defenders during protests, strikes and other public demonstrations continued throughout the year. A number of cases saw mixed forces of military police, riot police, and para-police – district security guards wearing motorbike helmets, frequently armed with batons, often used to violently break up demonstrations alongside police, targeting human rights activists, union supporters, journalists, and rights observers. In addition, throughout the two years, human rights defenders were consistently subject to rampant abuse of the criminal justice system, including arbitrary detention,legal threats, and bogus charges. However, despite the widespread abuse of human rights defenders throughout the two years, another pattern emerged – that of growing resilience by Cambodians in the face of oppression. Time and time again, people returned to the streets, defied death threats, and repeatedly risked – or endured – prison sentences to demand their rights and stand up for their communities and unions.”