Cambodia: NGO ban a blatant attempt to silence debate
Responding to the Cambodian government’s decision to ban the NGO coalition called the Situation Room from monitoring next year’s elections, Amnesty International’s Deputy Campaigns Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, Josef Benedict, said: “The ban on the Situation Room is a blatant attempt to silence the work of civil society in Cambodia, and must be reversed immediately.
It is chilling that the government is moving to limit public debate and unduly restrict the rights to freedom of expression and association ahead of next year’s general election.
“Instead of trying to repress civil society, Cambodia must ensure that NGOs can operate without fear of reprisal. The first steps should be to repeal the restrictive law on NGOs enacted in 2015, and stop using the courts to harass and silence human rights defenders. These tactics have left civil society extremely vulnerable, where many NGO workers live under the daily threat of being arbitrarily detained or subjected to other forms of retaliation for the work they do.”
For background, see Amnesty International’s report Courts of injustice: Suppressing activism through the criminal justice system in Cambodia (30 May 2017) https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/asa23/6059/2017/en/