For Immediate Release
Sharon Singh, email@example.com, 202-675-8579, @spksingh
Amnesty International Calls on Cambodian Authorities to Reverse the Convictions of 13 Women Imprisoned for ‘Speaking Out’
WASHINGTON - Amnesty International urges Cambodian authorities to overturn the convictions of 13 women imprisoned last month following a peaceful demonstration against forced evictions in Cambodia's capital Phnom Penh.
Earlier this year, thousands of families' homes were destroyed during a forced eviction of the buildings surrounding Boeung Kak Lake. The 13 women, who were members of this community, were sentenced to two and a half years in prison after a grossly unfair trial at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.
"These women are prisoners of conscience, imprisoned solely for speaking out on behalf of their community and for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression," said Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Cambodia researcher.
The trial occurred just one hour after the women were charged. Their lawyers were not given time to prepare a defense, nor were they given access to evidence or witnesses. An appeal hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, June 27 at Phnom Penh's Appeal Court.
"The unfair convictions should be overturned, and the women immediately and unconditionally released," said Abbott.
Human rights defenders and peaceful protesters in Cambodia face increasing harassment, legal action and violence. In the last six months, garment workers demonstrating for improved working conditions were shot in Svay Rieng; a prominent environmental activist, Chut Wutty, was killed in Koh Kong; and a 14-year-old girl was shot dead during a violent eviction in Kratie.
Cambodia must demonstrate through the release of these 13 women that it is committed to improving the human rights situation within its borders.
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Amnesty International is a worldwide movement of people who campaign for internationally recognized human rights for all. Our supporters are outraged by human rights abuses but inspired by hope for a better world - so we work to improve human rights through campaigning and international solidarity. We have more than 2.2 million members and subscribers in more than 150 countries and regions and we coordinate this support to act for justice on a wide range of issues.