Camboya - Union leaders sentenced for organising protests on unproven charges of violence

On 11 December 2018 the Phnom Penh Municipal Court handed down two-and-half-year suspended sentences to six prominent trade union leaders, following a trial riddled with irregularities and lacking in evidence.
All six were found guilty of instigating violent protests against the government in 2013 and 2014. The protests began in late 2013 in the capital Phnom Penh, with workers demanding a US$160 monthly minimum wage. Violent police repression followed, notably on 3 January 2014 when military police opened fire, killing four people and leaving another 27 injured. The court also ordered the six to jointly pay compensation of 35 million riels (US$8,750) to two policemen said to have been victims of the violence during the protests.
The six leaders charged were Chea Mony (Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia - FTUWKC) ); Mom Nhim (National Independent Federation Textile Union of Cambodia- NIFTUC); Pav Sina (Collective Union of Movement of Workers - CUMW); Yang Sophorn (Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions - CATU); Ath Thorn ( Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union - CCAWDU); and Rong Chhun (Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association – CITA).
Under Cambodian law, the guilty verdict effectively meant the six could no longer lead their unions as they had a criminal conviction.
No evidence was submitted to prove the six union leaders had instigated any of the acts for which they were sentenced. None of the actual perpetrators of violence or damage were brought to the hearing, nor were they named. Ath Thorn, leader of the CCAWDU, for example, pointed out that he was not even present at the protest site at the time of the violence.

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