Cambodia’s increasingly dictatorial, one-party rule is underpinned by generals in the security forces who are responsible for serious and systematic human rights violations, Human Rights Watch said today in a new report. Prime Minister Hun Sen and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) have benefitted from the unquestioning support of senior officials in the army, gendarmerie, and police to effectively eliminate all political opponents and dissolve the main opposition party, rendering the upcoming July 2018 national elections meaningless.
The 213-page report, “Cambodia’s Dirty Dozen: A Long History of Rights Abuses by Hun Sen’s Generals,” spotlights 12 senior security officers who form the backbone of an abusive and authoritarian political regime. Each of these officers owes his high-ranking and lucrative position to political and personal connections with Hun Sen dating back two decades or more. Each has demonstrated a willingness to commit rights abuses on behalf of Hun Sen. Instead of serving the public, these officials have acted to protect the rule of Hun Sen, who has been in power for more than 33 years. Throughout their careers, they have served in government positions paying modest official salaries, yet they have amassed large amounts of unexplained wealth.
“Over the years, Hun Sen has created and developed a core of security force officers who have ruthlessly and violently carried out his orders,” said Brad Adams, Asia director. “The importance of Cambodia’s generals has become even more apparent ahead of July’s elections, as they engage in crackdowns against journalists, political opponents, and anti-government protesters – and openly campaign for Hun Sen.”
Cambodian authorities should quash the politically motivated “insurrection” convictions against 11 members, supporters, and activists of Cambodia’s now dissolved main opposition party, Human Rights Watch said today. Cambodia’s Court of Appeal is scheduled to announce its decision on an appeal by the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) members, who had received sentences of from 7 to 20 years, on May 10, 2018.“The prosecution of 11 CNRP members was one of the first of many bogus cases brought against the opposition after the party nearly won the disputed 2013 elections,” said Brad Adams, Asia director. “Prime Minister Hun Sen and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party apparently decided to lock up political opponents to stave off defeat at the ballot box.”
By Anuradha Nagaraj
Women making clothes for global fashion brands in South Asia are often yelled at by their supervisors and have to take out loans to make ends meet, hundreds of garment workers' diaries showed.
A year-long study of more than 500 workers in Cambodia, India and Bangladesh found women often work overtime or borrow money from their husbands to feed their families and pay rent.
"I wouldn't have enough money if we ate a lot," read one entry by Chenda in Cambodia, where researchers found most workers were in their 20s and married, with some primary education and earned about $45 for a 48-hour week.
Fashion industry manufacturers have come under pressure to improve conditions and workers' rights, particularly after the 2013 Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh.
The largely female workforce in South Asia is often underpaid, faces verbal and sexual harassment on a daily basis and is forced to work long hours, campaigners say.
The research, published on Tuesday, was carried out by transparency campaigners Fashion Revolution and The C&A Foundation, affiliated with retailer C&A, which partners with the Thomson Reuters Foundation on trafficking.
The diaries' aim, they said, was to show "the human cost" of fashion and improve workers' lives.
"This gives brands something to consider above and beyond their margins when deciding where to make their clothes," Eric Noggle, research director at Microfinance Opportunities, said in a statement.
"Their decisions have a real and meaningful impact on the lives of these women and their families."
Researchers found that India had the best living and working conditions and Bangladeshi women earned the least per hour, often forcing them to borrow money.
In Cambodia, despite earning the minimum wage and supplementing their income with overtime, researcher found that most workers were still short of money, which meant they had limited access to quality food and medical care.
"What we see are stories of endurance in face of a difficult combination of low wages and economic uncertainty," said Guy Stuart, executive director of Microfinance Opportunities.
Published on Thomson Reuters Foundation on February 21, 2018
The diaries are available below, and can be found at: http://workerdiaries.org/garment-worker-diaries-reports/