HRW Slams Jail Verdict for Cambodia Casino Union Leader
The thorn in the side of the Cambodian government, NagaWorld union boss Chhim Sithar is going to prison for two years after a decision the HRW has called “pre-determined.” [Image: Shutterstock.com]
The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) has slammed the Phnom Penh municipal court’s decision to sentence Chhim Sithar, President of Labor Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees of NagaWorld, to two years in prison.
pre-determined, politically motivated”
On Thursday, HRW Deputy Asia Director Phil Robertson deemed the court’s decision “pre-determined, politically motivated.” Non-profit Civicus Monitor concurred via Twitter, saying Sithar’s punishment for organizing protests against casino operator NagaWorld was a “clear abuse of the judicial system:”
HRW has stated that Sithar and “her fellow labor leaders should have been able to negotiate settlement about the lay-offs.” None of the other eight leaders are joining their President in prison. Instead, courts gave five of Sithar’s union co-members suspended 1.5-year sentences, while releasing the remaining three on time served.
The Cambodian government’s handling of the union-led demonstrations in 2021 and 2022, which saw nearly 400 dismissed casino workers demand their old jobs back, has brought worldwide condemnation. In one such incident last year, Cambodian police conducted a violent crackdown on the protests, forcibly removing peaceful demonstrators and taking them to a quarantine center.