[JURIST] The National Assembly of Cambodia [official website, in Khmer] approved legislation on Monday that sets rules for the creation and operation of trade unions. All 67 members of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party [party website, in Khmer] voted for the law, which passed [AP report] the lower house of the legislature and now moves to the senate. The government of Cambodia supports this legislation, despite backlash [VOA report] by unions who say the law will make it difficult to strike and allows union leader discrimination. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia [official website] released a report [report, PDF] last week that stated the draft law is in violation of international labor conventions.
The lack of transparency in the Cambodian legislature and contention between political parties have led to international concern. In November the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia warned [JURIST report] that the increasing polarization of the political parties in Cambodia is reaching a breaking point. In October the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed concern [JURIST report] over the “organized attack” on opposition politicians in Cambodia. In April the UN Human Rights Committee stated that the government needs to make public all draft legislation in order to facilitate debate. Cambodia has had a history of human rights abuses that have continued to alarm rights organizations around the world. In March Cambodia’s Parliament passed [JURIST report] two controversial new election laws that rights groups criticized as ill-conceived and potentially damaging to free speech. In January Cambodian General Sao Sohka admitted to using force [JURIST report] against political opponents of the reigning Cambodian People’s Party.