Re: Threats against Global Witness
To: Prime Minister and senior government officials
From: Gail Davidson, Executive Director LRWC
We are aware of the report of Global Witness on June 1, 2007 documenting unlawful forest destruction in Cambodia. We have received information that on Sunday, June 3, 2007, the Minister of Information, Khieu Kanharith, issued a statement saying that the report would be banned in Cambodia and that copies would be confiscated. We are also informed that on Tuesday, June 5, 2007, the governor of Kompong Cham province, HE Hun Neng, was quoted in the news as stating that if Global Witness staff “come to Cambodia, I will hit them until their heads are broken.”
We understand that individual members of the Royal Government of Cambodia do not appreciate the contents of the Global Witness report; however, we are disappointed in the response of the Ministry of Information to ban the report. We hope the Royal Government of Cambodia will reconsider its position and ensure freedom of expression in Cambodia according to Article 41 of Cambodia’s Constitution. We also urge that your government ensure a complete and impartial investigation into any illegal logging, corruption or other unlawful behaviour involved in forest practices in Cambodia and that all those found to be violating the law will be brought to justice before impartial courts according to law.
LRWC is particularly concerned about the reported threat against Global Witness staff, and we request that your government ensure that all human rights defenders in Cambodia are protected from harassment, threats against their safety, and other unlawful acts against them.
Further to LRWC’s other recent letters, we wish to add that LRWC is increasingly disappointed and worried about increasing numbers of reports of human rights violations in Cambodia, particularly reports of harassment, threats and arrests of journalists and human rights defenders. We respectfully remind your government that Kingdom of Cambodia has ratified all key international human rights conventions and that the Constitution of Cambodia ensures full protection of international human rights in Cambodia. We also draw to your attention the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998. Article 1 of the Declaration states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels.”
We continue to urge the Royal Government of Cambodia to adhere to its Constitution and laws and ensure the safety and wellbeing and lawful treatment of all persons within Cambodia, including human rights defenders. We look forward to your response.