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Cambodia authorities release activists after labor protests

Cambodian police on Monday released five activists arrested earlier in the day for petitioning the French Embassy to release 23 demonstrators held for opposing the government's labor and political framework. The release was reportedly conditioned upon the demonstrators' collective agreement [AP report] that they would not join in recent labor rallies aimed, in part, toward offsetting the power of Prime Minister Hun Sen and furthering the rights of garment workers. Cambodian authorities on Saturday formally banned public protest in the capital city of Phnom Penh and forced demonstrators to disperse after a Friday rally resulted in clashes with security forces and four civilian deaths. Surya Subedi, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia, urged [press release] Cambodian authorities to use restraint when dealing with protestors and encouraged a peaceful resolution to the nation's labor problems.

Labor rights continue to be a contentious issue across the globe. In November Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a letter to the Labor Minister of Morocco, Abdeslam Seddiki, imploring the Moroccan government to revise a draft law [JURIST report] before the Moroccan parliament, regarding legal protections for domestic workers, to comply with international standards. Also in November Amnesty International reported that Vietnamese authorities are using repressive laws [JURIST report], unfair trials and harsh prison conditions against activists who oppose the ruling Communist government. The report claimed that those arrested include bloggers, labor and land rights activists, human rights defenders, and religious followers. In September Portugal's Constitutional Court struck down an austerity measure [JURIST report] that gave private companies greater latitude to fire employees.

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