Cambodian union leader arrested for staging protest against NagaWorld casino

She was initially arrested in January 2022 at a protest location close to the casino and was charged with inciting.

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A Cambodian court sentenced a woman union leader to two years in prison on Thursday for organising a strike against the largest casino in the country in protest of the reinstatement of workers who lost their jobs due to Covid-19.

In Phnom Penh's NagaWorld casino, hundreds of Cambodian employees were laid off. Chhim Sithar had constantly advocated for their reinstatement. She was initially detained in January 2022 at a protest location close to the casino and charged with inciting.

After coming back from a conference in Australia in November, Chhim Sithar was detained once more for going against her release terms.

Following her sentencing on Thursday, several former casino employees staged a protest outside the court. They screamed "injustice" as a jail van picked up Chhim Sithar and drove off. 

Her group's other union members included three people who received one-year suspended prison sentences and five others who received 18-month court monitoring orders.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has ruled Cambodia for more than 38 years and is getting ready for the July election, has been charged by rights organisations with exploiting the legal system to silence opposition.

NagaWorld is operated by Nagacorp, a Hong Kong-listed firm that holds a casino licence.

Although Cambodia has casinos, its residents are not permitted to gamble there according to national policy.

Furthermore, in October 2022, after authorities began an eight-day statewide investigation, more than 90% of illicit gambling business owners in Cambodia stopped operating.

According to reports, officers stopped operations across the nation and intensified their public education campaigns about the risks associated with gambling.

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