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District and provincial authorities are not above the law 

2011-09-09 - CLEC




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CAMBODIAN CENTER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS (CCHR) - CAMBODIAN LEAGUE FOR THE PROMOTION AND DEFENSE OF HUMAN RIGHTS (LICADHO) - COMMUNITY LEGAL EDUCATION CENTER (CLEC)

Press Release – Phnom Penh, 9 September 2011

 

CCHR, LICADHO and CLEC condemn efforts on the part of Kampong Thom province and Sandan district officials to impose conditions on human rights activities above and beyond that provided for in law. Such conditions have no basis in law and any attempts to impose such conditions are in flagrant disregard of the human rights of the people of Kampong Thom province as well as others who travel to that province to participate in activities in the promotion and protection of human rights. 

On the afternoon of 7 September 2011, representatives from CCHR, LICADHO and CLEC as well as the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN OHCHR) Cambodia attended a meeting with district officials in Sandan district, Kampong Thom province. The meeting was called after a training event organized by CCHR and the Natural Resource Protection Group (NRPG) was disrupted by officials accompanied by armed police. 

The justification offered by the district officials for disrupting the training event was that the organizers had failed to provide local authorities with notification of the event, despite the fact that the Law on Peaceful Demonstrations exempts organizers of “education dissemination activities” from providing any notification for such activities conducted on private or public property and notwithstanding the fact that the organizers had, as a matter of courtesy, informed provincial authorities of the event in writing. 

Of even greater concern however, were conditions district officials set out at the meeting for future activities in the promotion and protection of human rights in Kampong Thom, namely that organizations without offices in Kampong Thom province could not conduct activities without permission from the authorities. The comments by district officials echo sentiments expressed by deputy governor of Kampong Thom province Ouch Sam On in yesterday’s Phnom Penh Post. In that article, the deputy governor also stated that they would not allow individuals from other provinces to participate in activities in Kampong Thom province. 

These two conditions violate a number of human rights set out in the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia and international law which, as part Article 31 of the Constitution, form part of the law of Cambodia. These rights include, the right to freedom of expression (Article 41 of the Constitution), the right to freedom of assembly (Article 42 of the Constitution), the right to freedom of movement (Article 40 of the Constitution) and the right to participate in the political, economic, social and cultural life of the nation (Article 35 of the Constitution).

Ou Virak, who attended the meeting with Sandan district officials, commented: 

“We have done everything that the law requires of us in organizing this effort and more still. Out of courtesy we wrote the provincial authorities last month to tell them this event would be held even though the law does not require any such notification for human rights training. What the district and

provincial authorities are saying essentially is that they are above the law and that they can impose any conditions they want on their citizens and on NGOs.” 

Viewing these recent developments against the wider background of the situation of NGOs in Cambodia Naly Pilorge, Director of LICADHO, stated: 

“This is the most recent in a series of attacks against NGOs operating in Cambodia. What I am most concerned about is that these kind of arbitrary decisions by authorities, which directly violate the rights of citizens, reflect the government`s motivation in pushing for the NGO and Association law and its intent at further restricting basic freedoms.”

Responding to the comments from district and provincial authorities, Yeng Virak, Executive Director of CLEC, commented: 

“These communities are seeking resolutions for violations of their human rights. CCHR educates communities to use the law as the means through which their problems can be resolved peacefully. If the authorities want to see these problems fixed, they should extend their cooperation to CCHR and other NGOs instead of preventing them from carrying out lawful activities designed to help communities.”

 

For more information, please contact:

Mr. Ou Virak, President of CCHR 012 404 051

Ms. Naly Pilorge, Director of LICADHO, 012 803 650

Mr. Yeng Virak, Executive Director of CLEC 012 801 235



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