News

(27-January-2015 / The Cambodia Daily)

More than 100 cleaners employed by Cambodia Airports walked off the job at Phnom Penh International Airport on Monday and protested outside the terminal’s entrance after their request last week for higher salaries went unanswered, a union official said.

“In the afternoon, more than 100 cleaners protested at Pochentong Airport when the airport did not [respond] to their request,” said Tuon Saren, a coordinator at the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, which organized the strike.

(27-January-2015 / The Cambodia Daily)

Three Montagnard asylum seekers arrived in Phnom Penh last week and are applying for refugee status at the Interior Ministry’s refugee department, the U.N. and a rights group confirmed Monday.

Chhay Thy, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc in Ratanakkiri province—to which nearly 30 Montagnard asylum seekers have fled over the past three months—said the three arrived in the capital on Wednesday.

“Today, the U.N. confirmed that they received three Vietnamese Jarai in Phnom Penh,” he said, referring to the Montagnards.

Mr. Thy said a Cambodian Jarai villager, who is helping to translate for the Montagnards, told him the group comprised two men and a woman.

(27-January-2015 / The Cambodia Daily)

The Court of Appeal on Monday upheld the protest-related convictions handed down to 11 activists in November, but reduced the prison sentences of all but the most high-profile members of the group.

Rights groups called the decision “indefensible.”

Seven of the defendants were arrested in mid-November for blocking traffic during a protest in front of Phnom Penh City Hall against the municipal government’s failure to address the repeated flooding of their Boeng Kak neighborhood. The other four were arrested the next day for “obstructing public officials” while protesting outside the Phnom Penh Municipal Court against the arrest of the first seven.

(27-January-2015 / The Phnom Penh Post)

The latest Montagnard asylum seekers to arrive in Cambodia have bypassed the northeastern province where 14 others are currently in hiding and headed straight to the capital to meet with UN officials yesterday, who referred them to the government’s Refugee Department.

The three Christian Montagnards, a woman and two men all in their early 20s, travelled from Vietnam’s Gia Lai and Dak Lak provinces and crossed through Bavet International Border last Tuesday before heading onwards to Phnom Penh, according to an ethnic minority Jarai villager and local rights group Adhoc.

(27-January-2015 / The Phnom Penh Post)

Despite hopes to the contrary, 10 female land activists, including seven well-known Boeung Kak lake protesters, and a monk, had their convictions upheld yesterday morning at the Appeal Court, two and a half months after they were arrested and sentenced to a year in prison within 24 hours of their respective arrests.

Although most received slight reductions in their prison terms and fines, it appeared to be of little consolation.

Following the verdict, the jump-suited defendants yelled and protested the “injustice” of the decision in the courtroom before being dragged out and into waiting police vans.

(27-January-2015 / The Phnom Penh Post)

Villagers in Koh Kong province were sent back to the drawing board yesterday, when the Court of Appeal upheld the provincial court’s decision that about 62 hectares of land belongs to Heng Huy Co.

The land in Sre Ambel district’s Chi Khor Krom commune has been the subject of controversy between Heng Huy and 15 families, who say their land was taken in 2010, villager representatives said in court yesterday.

“The complaint is wrong,” Appeal Court judge Plang Samnang said, explaining that villagers had no proof the land ever belonged to them. “They can file again, after they ask the [provincial] court to confirm it is their land, and confirmations are certified by the authorities.”

(27-January-2015 / The Phnom Penh Post)

Three soldiers, one of whom was previously implicated in the murder of an environmental official, were arrested last week in Preah Sihanouk province for allegedly clearing an area of protected forest land in Ream National Park, officials said yesterday.

Provincial deputy prosecutor Ros Saram said that two of the soldiers were arrested on Thursday alongside the operator of an excavator they were using to clear the land.

The following day, a third soldier, Thorn Virak, was arrested.

“The driver and three soldiers were charged with clearing the forest land in Ream National Park without permission and they were detained in the [provincial] prison” to await trial, Saram said.

(27-January-2015 / The Phnom Penh Post)

Almost a quarter of Cambodian students aged 7 to 14 are forced to give up school because their work intercedes, according to a new study by UNESCO.

Looking at what keeps kids from the classroom and why initiatives to get them back are stalling, the study found a high correlation between students who work and students who drop out.

“There are strong links between being a child labourer and being out of school and the two challenges must be addressed together,” says the report, titled Fixing the Broken Promise of Education for All.

“On the one hand, child labour needs to be reduced in order to increase school attendance. On the other hand, increased school attendance is the most effective way to reduce child labour.”

(26-January-2015 / DailyMail)

A Cambodian court on Monday upheld convictions for 11 land activists involved in protests last year while marginally reducing most of their sentences, as rights groups decried the latest strike against freedom of expression.

In November, 10 female activists -- including a 75-year-old woman -- and a defrocked Buddhist monk were each sentenced to a year in prison for blocking traffic or obstructing the work of officials during protests in Phnom Penh.

Cambodia's Appeal Court upheld the guilty verdicts but reduced eight of the activists' jail terms to 10 months while the sentence for the eldest campaigner -- Nget Khun, known locally as "Mommy" -- was cut to six months.

(26-January-2015 / The Phnom Penh Post)

As 14 Montagnard asylum seekers continue to evade authorities in the forests of Ratanakkiri province, an official said Sunday that police deported seven “Vietnamese Jarai” from the northeastern province on Saturday.

Ratanakkiri provincial police chief Nguon Koeun said border police arrested the seven on Saturday in O’Yadaw district’s Paknhai commune and handed them over to Vietnamese authorities near the border later that day.

“We arrested those people because they crossed the border illegally and farmed in our Khmer land,” he said.

“They are not Montagnards, they are Vietnamese Jarai people,” he added.