Shrinking Space: call for the drop of all charges against arrested Cambodian Union Leader Rong Chhun

The Global Union Federations is calling Cambodia to release Rong Chhun and other trade unionists in the country.

Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions, was arrested by police at his home on 31st July, after the Cambodian Border Affairs Committee publicly called on authorities to take action against the unionist for his comments, following a visit to the Cambodia-Vietnam border on July 20. Rong Chhun has been an outspoken advocate for workers’ rights in Cambodia and he was advocating towards the land rights of citizens living in the border area.

This arrest adds to the worrying situation of lack of freedom of expression and assembly in Cambodia, jeopardizing the efforts and the personal safety of Human Rights Defenders and Trade Union leaders in the country.

In response to this, Global Union Federations and its affiliates across Asia Pacific launched a statement asking the government of Cambodia to release Rong Chhun and to implement the recommendations from the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia. In addition, Human Rights Watch published an article that demands to "drop the fabricated charges" against Chhun.

SOLIDAR supports these demands and asks the EU to publicly denounce the unfair incarceration of Rong Chhun. In addition, we urge the EU to increase its support to Civil Society Organisations, Trade Unions and Human Rights Defenders in Cambodia, in line with its commitment on the European Commission communication “The roots of democracy and sustainable development: Europe’s engagement with Civil Society in external relations”, as well as its EU Guidelines on HRDs and the new “Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy”.

The current programming process of the EU should include specific measures and references to freedom of expression and association, as pre-requisites for a truly democratic society!

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