Concerns over Cambodia banning activists from going to Sweden

The Right Livelihood Foundation has expressed concerns over Cambodia banning three environmental activists from traveling to Sweden to receive the prize known as the “Alternative Nobel.”

Thon Ratha, Phuong Keo Reaksmey and Long Khunthea are a part of the Cambodian environmental group and former non-governement organization called “Mother Nature Cambodia.” Last month, Mother Nature Cambodia was announced as co-winner of the award.

The Cambodian group is being recognized for its “fearless and engaging activism to preserve Cambodia’s natural environment. They are praised for their perseverance despite the context of a highly restricted democratic space.” The prizewinning activists are currently serving a suspended prison sentence for their advocacy work.

The three asked for permission to travel to Sweden to receive the award from November 24 to December 1. On Monday, October 2, the chief prosecutor with the Phnom Penh Municipal Court ruled that the trip was not necessary.

Calls for the ruling to be reconsidered

The Right Livelihood Foundation has called for the ruling to be reconsidered. The foundation has subsequently stated that next month’s award presentation in Stockholm will go on as planned.

“While we are saddened by the news, we are proud of the work by Mother Nature Cambodia,” the foundation added.

The Stockholm-based foundation said the Cambodian government’s “hostile stance against the organization is evident.”

“The unjust imprisonment of 11 activists. The forced exile of their founder, Alejandro Gonzalez-Davidson. The ongoing intimidation, legal harassment and surveillance of those who support the organization is evident to that,” the Foundation cited.

In June 2021, the three activists were convicted of incitement to commit a felony for their activities to protect natural resources. Their 14-month prison sentences were suspended. Still, they are banned from traveling abroad for three years without permission from the court.


About Miabell Mallikka

Miabell Mallikka is a journalist working with ScandAsia at the headquarters in Bangkok.

View all posts by Miabell Mallikka

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