May 9, 2024 3 min read

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Cambodian Union Leader Faces 18 Months in Prison Over Social Media Post

Licadho and other human rights organizations have denounced Rithy's imprisonment as an effort to intimidate labor unions and hinder their activist endeavors

Morm Rithy, who is one of the leaders in Cambodia’s labor movement, has been sentenced to 18 months in prison by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court for a Facebook post he used to criticize the treatment of a casino worker.  

Rithy who is also the president of the Cambodian Tourism and Service Workers’ Federation (CTSWF) and the vice president of the Cambodian Labor Confederation (CLC) was charged with incitement and discrediting judicial decisions, reported The Camboja News

The reason behind the charges is a Facebook post from February 24, 2022, with which Rithy expressed concerns about the arrest of Morm Sreyleak, a female employee at the Jin Bei 2 casino, and questioned the legitimacy of her being detained. He also called for more transparency in the judicial proceedings. As a result, the Chinese-owned Jin Bei Group filed a complaint against him.

Following prolonged legal proceedings, Rithy was arrested on May 7 this year outside the offices of CLC in Phnom Penh. Scheduling conflicts prevented Rithy from attending the hearing and the verdict was pronounced in his absence. 

Cambodian Rights Groups Decry Union Leader’s Sentence

Licadho and other human rights groups have spoken against Rithy’s prison sentences. The have labeled the imprisonments an attempt to scare labor unions and thwart their activist operations. 

The incident is part of a wider crackdown on activists and union leaders in Cambodia. A couple of days before Rithy’s arrest Cambodia’s Supreme Court confirmed the verdict of Chhim Sithar who is also a labor unionist and several other individuals who organized a strike at NagaWorld Casino.

Cambodia has faced criticism that such activities undermine its reputation as a democratic state and violate fundamental freedoms. The Cambodian government has stated that it abides by the law, however, it is still the subject of allegations of politically motivated prosecutions and judicial harassment.

Cambodia has a history of authoritarian governance including former Prime Minister Hun Sen. Against this backdrop the country is still struggling to uphold democratic values and protect human rights and the freedom of speech. Despite a change in leadership, observers have yet to witness significant improvements in the country’s human rights landscape.

Following Rithy’s arrest and prison sentence, fellow union leaders and activists have vouched for his release. They see the incident as a threat to the labor movement‘s ability to advocate for workers’ rights.

Author

Silvia has dabbled in all sorts of writing – from content writing for social media to movie scripts. She has a Bachelor's in Screenwriting and experience in marketing and producing documentary films. With her background as a customer support agent within the gambling industry, she brings valuable insight to the Gambling News writers’ team.

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