Borei Keila Evictions, Cambodia

     The United Nations defines forced evictions as “the involuntary removal of persons from their homes or land, directly or indirectly attributable to the State” and are prohibited under international law.  Amnesty International has been dismayed by continuing forced evictions across Cambodia, together with repressive actions taken against those who oppose these evictions.  Most recently, 24 women and 6 children forcibly evicted from the Borei Keila area of Phnom Penh were arrested on 11 January during a peaceful protest. They are being arbitrarily detained, and are at risk of ill-treatment.  Another 8 (possibly more) were arrested the previous week during the course of the eviction itself.
     The 30 women and children were among a group protesting peacefully in Phnom Penh against the detention of around eight people arrested during the forced eviction of Borei Keila on 3 January 2012. The women and children were arrested and taken to Prey Speu Social Affairs Center in Phnom Penh. The Center is used by the authorities to arbitrarily detain homeless people, drug users, and sex workers rounded up from the streets. Human rights NGOs have previously reported that detainees there have been subjected to abuses including rape, murder, and threats of violence. No human rights monitors have been able to visit the 30 women and children in the Center.
      On 3 January, the homes of around 300 families living in Borei Keila were destroyed by workers from a construction company which had acquired some of the land in 2003. Human rights monitors and media reported that security forces who were present used tear gas and rubber bullets against the residents, and rocks, logs and bottles were thrown during clashes. More than 64 people were reportedly injured. At least eight of the residents were arrested, and remain in detention. The charges against them are not known. Most of those evicted have been moved to two separate sites. Conditions at one site, Srah Po, 45 kilometres from Phnom Penh, are reportedly poor, with no adequate sanitation or housing. Some families have only received a plot of land and are living under tarpaulins, others have not been given anything. Many lost their possessions when their homes were destroyed.
      Forced evictions can have catastrophic effects for people who already live in poverty. In Cambodia and elsewhere, they result not only in people losing their homes, neighborhoods and personal possessions, but also their social networks and the break-up of communities.  People are often left homeless or relocated to remote areas. In both these situations, people may also no longer be able to access sources of clean drinking water, food, sanitation, work, health, and education.
     Amnesty International urges the government of Cambodia to take steps to ensure that legal rights are upheld for the residents of Borei Keila and other contested properties.  In particular, we ask that the government take steps to:
  •            Immediately release the 30 peaceful women and children protesters who were detained on 11 January and are now being detained at Prey Speu Social Affairs Center;
  •            Conduct a full and independent investigation into the forced eviction of some 300 families living at Borei Keila, Phnom Penh on 3 January, including into why the eviction took place, and the apparent excessive use of force by security forces;
  •            Release the (at least) eight villagers who were arrested on 3 January, pending further investigations;
  •            Suspend and prosecute those members of the security forces responsible for excessive use of force in the eviction of Borei Keila;
  •            Ensure adequate compensation and suitable alternative accommodation that meets international standards for all those forcibly evicted to be provided with for adequate housing.
  •            Prevent further forced evictions in Cambodia, in accordance with international law.  
What can you do?  

Use the points listed above to write to:

Prime Minister Hun Sen
Prime Minister’s Office
Phnom Penh
Fax: + 855 23 212 490/+855 23 880 624

Click here for the most current Urgent Action on these evictions.


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