The ICJ condemned the Cambodian Court of Appeal’s decision to deny bail to 21 workers and activists who were arrested in connection with protests by garment factory workers.
They have been held in detention since their arrests on 2 and 3 January 2014.
The court upheld an earlier decision of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.
Garment factory workers were protesting to seek a higher minimum wage.
“International law is clear that pre-trial detention may only be ordered in exceptional circumstances and avoided if suitable alternatives are possible,” said Sam Zarifi, ICJ’s Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific. “The ongoing detention of these protesters, and the failure of the government to provide accountability for the death of five unarmed protesters on 3 January, demonstrates the government’s efforts to stop protesters exercising their rights to assemble freely and express their opinions.”
“Not only is this a very disappointing outcome for the 21 detainees and their families, but it also sets a worrying precedent in what is still a developing area of the law in Cambodia,” he added.
Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Cambodia is a party, guarantees the right to liberty.
It states, “It shall not be the general rule that persons awaiting trial shall be detained in custody, but release may be subject to guarantees to appear for trial.” Such guarantees include bail.
Articles 19 and 21 of the ICCPR guarantee the rights to freedom of opinion and assembly.
Sam Zarifi, ICJ Asia-Pacific Regional Director, (Bangkok), t:+66 807819002, e-mail: sam.zarifi(a)icj.org
Craig Knowles, ICJ Media & Communications, (Bangkok), t:+66 819077653, e-mail: craig.knowles(a)icj.org