A Cambodian court sentenced a former governor in absentia to 18 months in prison for shooting three female workers at a factory supplying sportswear giant Puma, a judge said yesterday.
The women, employees of Puma supplier Kaoway Sports, were wounded when someone opened fire on protesters demanding better working conditions at factories in eastern Svay Rieng province in February 2012.
Chhuk Bundith, who was removed from his post of governor of Bavet City after the shooting, was sentenced to 18 months in jail after the court found him “guilty” of causing unintentional injuries by shooting, according to judge Leang Sour at Svay Rieng provincial court. …
Critics say Cambodia’s legal system is in thrall to powerful and wealthy interests, leaving the country without proper rule of law. The textile industry employs about 650,000 people and is a key source of foreign income for the impoverished nation.
South China Morning Post Staff
As night falls thousands of weary workers stream from textile factories that fan out across Phnom Penh’s outskirts.
The clothing industry’s desire for cheap labour having created an abundance of jobs but as the number of international clothes companies tapping into Cambodia’s workforce grows, so does anger at the low wages and tough conditions that come with such employment in the global garment industry. …
Overwork, malnutrition and poor ventilation are to blame for staff fainting in factories since 2010, according to Moeun Tola, program manager at the Community Legal Education Centre, which provides advocacy for workers. …
Bavet town governor Chhouk Bandith is the man who gunned down three unarmed women at a protest last week, Interior Minister Sar Kheng alleged yesterday, saying an official complaint had been filed against him.
Outside an unrelated conference, the minister told reporters the governor would be arrested imminently in relation to the shootings at the Kaoway Sports Ltd shoe factory in Svay Rieng province’s Bavet town during a February 19 protest of about 6,000 people.
“Related to the arrest of a suspect or not, it is not the duty of the Ministry of Interior, it is the duty of the court, but it will not take longer than one week because we have to do it clearly,” he said.
Allegations have steadily surfaced against the high-profile suspect since he told the Post last Tuesday he was aware of accusations against him which he categorically denied. …
May Titthara and David Boyle, P. 1
Security footage of a shooting outside a shoe factory on Monday that left three protestors in hospital has been reviewed by police, the head of the special economic zone where the incident took place said yesterday.
The three women were shot at a violent protest of about 6,000 people at the Kaoway Sports Ltd factory in Svay Rieng province’s Bavet town, which supplies sportswear giant PUMA.
Larry Kao, managing director of the Manhattan SEZ, said security footage of the incident, which he had not seen, had been taken by government officials on Wednesday.
“They reviewed the shooting – the government officials,” he said.
On Tuesday, Interior Minister Sar Kheng said there was sufficient evidence to convict a suspect, who he did not identify.
David Boyle and May Titthara
German sportwear maker Puma sent officials to investigate working conditions in Cambodia after a local woman working for one of its suppliers was shot during a labour protest on Monday.
The woman, who was employed by Kaoway Sports, was shot during a protest by employees of several factories calling for better working conditions and increased pay.
Puma said it is paying for the medical costs of the woman, who is receiving treatment at a hospital in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh.
Puma said its safety directors in Asia were working with non-governmental organisations, other brands and trade unions to come up with ways to improve the safety and well-being of employees in its supplier factories.
“We are very aware that the working situation in Cambodia is problematic so that’s why we’re in the process of talking at an industry-wide level,” a Puma spokeswoman told Reuters.