Cambodia: A No Go Zone for Human Rights Activists

by Kizito Ssekitooleko, CIVICUS Intern, Geneva.

On 28th January 2014, I attended the 18th Session of the United Nations Universal Period Review (UPR) on Cambodia. I also had the privilege of attending two side meetings held before the UPR and organized by World Association for the School as an Instrument of Peace and International PEN and its Partners. Several disturbing revelations on restrictions on the operation of human rights activists came up during the side meetings and the UPR on Cambodia.

In early January, 2014, the authoritarian regime of Cambodia passed a blanket ban on the right to exercise free assembly in Cambodia. Following this ban, all attempts by the citizens of Cambodia as well as civil society organizations to exercise their right to assemble as guaranteed in the Constitution of Cambodia are met with excessive use of force and use of lethal ammunition from police, the military and plain clothed security personnel. For example, on 3rd January, 2014, Cambodia government, using excessive force quelled a peaceful demonstration of garment workers asking a higher wage. In January, 2014, Cambodian security officers also brutally attacked peaceful demonstrators who were protesting against a government decision refusing Mr. Mam Sonando, a strong government critic and human rights defender to launch a new television channel in Phnom Penh. On 26th January, 2014, a planned demonstration organized by some Labour Unions and associations in Cambodia was stopped in advance by the deployment of the military and other security personnel at the site where peaceful demonstrators were to assemble.

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Investigations into the 2011 human rights violations in Yemen are a matter of urgency

by Kizito Ssekitooleko, CIVICUS intern, Geneva

Yemeni protesters during the 2011 revolution. Source: Al Jazeera English via Wikimedia Commons

Yemeni protesters during the 2011 revolution. Source: Al Jazeera English via Wikimedia Commons

On 29 January 2014, I attended the side meeting on Yemen, organized by CIVICUS and its partners, as well as the 18th Session of the United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on Yemen. One of the issues that arose in the side meeting and the UPR process was concerning investigations into the human rights violations during the 2011 uprising in Yemen. This issue caught my attention, because it directly touches on the work of human rights activists and human rights defenders in Yemen. As it will be shown below, the rights violated included attacks on peaceful protesters, restrictions on exercise of the right to expression, association and assembly which are core to the work of human rights activists and human rights defenders and other civil society organizations. Before I dwell on this issue, let me briefly talk about the 2011 uprising in Yemen.

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