A Cambodian union leader who led a long-running strike by casino workers last year has been sentenced to two years in prison. Song Puthea, head of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW) was convicted on charges of “insulting public officials” for leading a strike demanding higher wages at a casino in Poipet. The strike began in April and lasted for months, with workers camping outside the facility to protest working conditions.
In announcing the sentence on Thursday, the court said that Puthea had looked to “make money by inciting the workers to the strike” and had “incited the workers to illicit activities”. The court did not provide further details on the alleged illicit activities committed by Puthea or the workers.
The sentence was widely condemned by civil society groups as politically motivated and unjust. Human Rights Watch said the sentence was a “severe blow to labor rights” in Cambodia. The Asian Human Rights Commission called the sentence “a sham and a complete violation of justice”.
Puthea has vowed to appeal the verdict. If his appeal is unsuccessful, his two-year sentence will likely be served in a general prison, as opposed to a labor camp or similar facility.