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Cambodia enacts regulation to protect entertainment workers

[JURIST] Cambodia on Wednesday enacted a regulation that will extend the same rights and protections to nightlife workers that the country's laws currently grant to other workers. The regulation, entitled "Working Conditions, Occupational Safety and Health Rules of Entertainment Service, Enterprises Establishments and Companies," was issued [press release] by the Cambodian Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training and seeks [AP report] to improve safety for workers in this sector, who often face problems such as violence and sexual harassment as well as forced labor and similar rights violations. The move was lauded by UN International Labor Organization (ILO) [official website] Asia-Pacific director Yoshiteru Uramoto [official profile], who stated that the effort was ground breaking and helps to protect a group of people that most governments fail to properly keep from harm. Tourism Minister Thong Khon also praised [Xinhua report] the regulation, saying that the country has more than 11,331 entertainment workers employed at placed like night clubs and beer gardens, and that this regulation would serve as a "new legal instrument to improve working conditions, health and rights" for those employees.

Cambodia has a precarious relationship both with its human rights situation and its political process, especially in the aftermath of of the disputed 2013 parliamentary elections. Some progress was recently made in the country's human rights situation and reconciling political divisions. In September UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia [official website] Surya Subedi commented [JURIST report] on Cambodia's recent efforts in human rights protection, noting that while there have been improvements, there are still substantial problems in the judicial system. In March the two main political parties, the Cambodian People's Party and the Cambodian National Rescue Party, reached [JURIST report] a five-point electoral reform agreement that garnered the support of Subedi. On February 27 the government lifted [JURIST report] its temporary ban on public protests which had barred demonstrations by opposition groups protesting the previous year's allegedly fraudulent elections. The ban had been put in place the previous month after several textile workers engaged in a protest had been shot by police. Also in February the government announced [JURIST report] its refusal to release 21 persons arrested in connection with political demonstrations. January was a particularly volatile month, prompting multiple statements from UN bodies calling [JURIST reports] for reconciliation and an end to political violence.

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