UPDATE 25/05/2023: Today, a Phnom Penh court sentenced Sithar to two years in prison and the other union members to between one to one and a half years. Sithar has been transferred to prison while the others received suspended sentences or terms of judicial supervision. Cambodian authorities should immediately quash the convictions and unconditionally release Chhim Sithar.

Chhim Sithar is the President of the Labour Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees (LRSU) of NagaWorld casino where she has worked since 2007. She has been leading a strike since December 2021 following mass layoffs.

On 26 November 2022, Sithar was arrested in Phnom Penh airport on return from Australia, where she had been attending the International Trade Union Confederation World Congress in Melbourne, and meeting Australian parliamentarians in Canberra to discuss the repression facing her union. Authorities allege she violated her bail conditions - that neither her or her lawyer were aware of - by travelling overseas. Sithar was initially arrested in January 2022 and spent 9 weeks in jail, on the bogus charge of ‘incitement to commit a felony’ – a common tactic of the Cambodian authorities to target trade unions, human rights activists, journalists and dissenters.
She is currently detained  along with eight other NagaWorld union leaders who have also been charged for their role in the strike. The trial has so far focused on questioning the union’s legitimate strike activities.   

Sithar’s arrests reflect a pattern of a discriminatory and politically motivated retaliation by government authorities against union leaders attempting to hold the Cambodian government and corporations to account for failing to protect workers' rights.
Hun Sen is ramping up repression against trade unionists and political activists in the lead up to the Cambodian national elections in July, targeting the LRSU and the few remaining independent organisations and activists protecting workers’ rights and human rights.

Sign the petition now, calling on Prime Minister Hun Sen to immediately drop the charges and free Chhim Sithar and her fellow unionists, and stop the attacks on trade unions.

Sign the Petition

  Joint Petition
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Australian Council of trade unions logos.

Prime Minister Hun Sen
Office of the Prime Minister
Jok Dimitrov Boulevard,
Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Your Excellency,

I am gravely concerned for the future of all workers in Cambodia after the detention of Chhim Sithar, the leader of the Labor Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees (LRSU) of NagaWorld casino. Sithar has been detained solely for her work defending workers’ rights and must be released immediately and unconditionally.  

Under international human rights law and its Constitution, Cambodia has an obligation to respect, protect, and fulfil the human rights of workers and to ensure that they realise their rights to unionise and strike without fear of violent and/or legal repercussions. 

Incitement charges brought against Sithar appear to have been motivated because of her leadership of the LRSU and their ongoing strike actions against NagaWorld. 

Sithar is accused of allegedly violating bail conditions that she had no way of knowing, because they were not provided to her, despite requests from her lawyers. This indicates that she was rearrested because of her ongoing union work, exercising her right to freedom of speech and to freedom of association while in Cambodia and Australia. 

Sithar’s case is just the latest example of increasing repression and violations of human and trade union rights in Cambodia. I call on your Government to immediately fulfil its obligations to uphold the principles in ILO Convention 87 concerning Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise and international human rights treaties.

I urge you to ensure that Sithar is released immediately and unconditionally, and prompt, impartial and thorough investigation into the charges brought against her is undertaken by an independent body. 

Yours sincerely,

[Your name]