On May 19, 2023, the case was won in the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.

Заголовок: On May 19, 2023, the case was won in the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. Сведения: 2024-05-04 12:14:22

The case of "X. against Cambodia." Opinions of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women dated May 19, 2023. Message No. 146/2019.

In 2019, the author of the communication was assisted in preparing a complaint. Subsequently, the complaint was communicated to Cambodia.

As seen from the text of the Opinions, the author lived in the village of Lapeang, located in the Taches community of Kampong Chnang province. For ten years, she and her community have been involved in a land dispute with the development company KDC International, owned by the wife of the former Minister of Mining and Energy. The author led a community movement to stop the acquisition of land by KDC International, and, according to her, this led to serious consequences. The author claimed that she was a rural woman within the meaning of article 14 of the Convention and a human rights defender. However, instead of protecting her, the State party has failed to provide remedies against the discrimination she faces as a rural women's human rights defender and against human rights violations related to land. Moreover, the judicial authorities of the State party obstructed her human rights activities. The author also claimed that the discriminatory consequences of the land conflict and the lack of any action in this regard on the part of the State party constituted discrimination within the meaning of article 1 of the Convention (paragraphs 2.1, 3.1 of the Opinions).

Legal positions of the Committee: The Committee recalls that forced eviction is not a gender-neutral phenomenon, but disproportionately affects women (paragraph 6.2 of the Opinion).

The Committee notes that the sale and leasing of land to local, national and foreign investors, often accompanied by expropriation, puts rural women at risk of forced eviction and further impoverishment and further restricts their access to lands, territories and natural resources. Involuntary displacement has a negative impact on rural women in many ways, and in this regard they often suffer from gender-based violence.... Rural women human rights defenders are often at risk of violence when, for example, they work to protect victims, transform local customs or ensure the rights to use natural resources. The Committee recalls its recommendation to the State party to increase women's access to land and land-use guarantees and to ensure that the process of acquiring land under economic and other types of concessions is carried out in accordance with appropriate procedures and that adequate compensation is provided upon completion of sufficient consultation processes (paragraph 6.3 of the Opinion).

Obligation of States parties under article 2 (paragraph "e") The Convention to eliminate discrimination by any public or private entity includes an obligation to ensure that women can file complaints about violations of their rights under the Convention and have access to effective remedies.... Article 15 of the Convention provides that women must have equality with men before the law and enjoy equal protection of the law (paragraph 6.5 of the Opinion).

The Committee's assessment of the factual circumstances of the case: the author's argument is taken into account that the authorities of the State party did not ensure that KDC International did not discriminate against her, which consisted, in particular, in the destruction of her house and part of her agricultural land and the destruction of documents confirming the ownership of land for her family, the construction of a concrete wall and thereby fencing off part of its land. The Committee noted that during a press conference held in July 2014, KDC International workers threw stones at her house. The Committee pointed out that the author's forced relocation had forced her to live in a place where basic infrastructure and access to basic services, including sanitation and primary health care, were lacking. The Committee noted that, according to the author, the inaction of the State party's authorities had a negative impact on her as a rural woman, human rights defender and mother, as she lost her property and a home for her children, could no longer work and was forcibly relocated to unsatisfactory housing. The Committee stated that, despite the author's numerous statements and petitions, the State party's authorities had not taken any measures to protect the author from the violent acts committed against her and her home and land by KDC International. The Committee noted that the State party's authorities had not responded to the author's complaint regarding the threatening letters addressed to her and her husband. In this regard, the Committee stated that one of the letters addressed to the author contained a threat that she would eventually die and "go the same way as her sister" (paragraph 6.2 of the Opinions).

The Committee noted the author's statements that, despite her status as a rural women's human rights defender, the State party's authorities, in violation of the provisions of the Convention, did not take all appropriate measures to ensure her participation in the development and implementation of the KDC International project and did not take the necessary measures to enable her to participate in development processes, enjoy equal treatment in the implementation of resettlement plans from land and have an adequate standard of living. The Committee noted that, according to the information in the case, the State party's authorities did not take any measures to ensure an adequate standard of living for the author, which forced her to move to a place where there was no basic infrastructure and access to basic services, as well as to ensure her participation in the development and implementation and planning of the KDC International project. The Committee pointed out that due to the inaction of the authorities regarding the activities of KDC International in Lapeang, the author's access to livelihood was undermined. The Committee took note of the author's argument that she had not received a response from the Phnom Penh Court of First Instance to her requests to oblige KDC International to prove its ownership of the land, return the land to the communities and pay adequate compensation to the affected communities (paragraph 6.3 of the Opinion).

The Committee noted the author's claim that the State party's judicial authorities persecuted and discriminated against her because of her position as a rural women's human rights defender. The Committee noted that the author was charged with the crime of incitement to violence and then with the crime of defamation. The Committee found indisputable the author's argument that these accusations were groundless and indicated that the State party's authorities persecute rural women and human rights defenders on the basis of their gender identity. The Committee also noted the author's indisputable claim that she was forced to stop protesting after being given an ultimatum "under pressure from the court" and that this prevented other women from defending their rights. The Committee considered that the criminal proceedings against the author constituted reprisals against her for her public activities and that in the prevailing conditions of intimidation and harassment of human rights defenders defending women's rights to land, she could no longer defend the interests of her community in a land dispute (paragraph 6.4 of the Opinion).

The Committee took note of the author's claim that she had not been provided with equality before the law or effective remedies for violations of her human rights. The Committee noted that none of the author's petitions concerning the land dispute had been answered, except for the decision of the Ministry of Justice to refuse to intervene. The author's appeals included a complaint to the Phnom Penh Court of First Instance demanding the return of her land and a complaint about threatening letters filed with the Kampong Chnang Provincial Court, as well as petitions filed by representatives of the community, including the author, which covered a complaint to the National Assembly demanding that the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction be deprived of confidence, a request to the Chairman of the National meetings to address the government with a demand to release land activists, resolve the land dispute and stop accusations against representatives of the community, complaints to the Ministry of Justice of Cambodia and the Governor of Kampong Chnang Province demanding to intervene in the resolution of the land dispute and a request to the Chairman of the National Assembly to speed up negotiations on the resolution of the land dispute. The Committee noted that the failure of the State party's authorities to respond to the author's petitions resulted in a lack of equal protection of the law and any remedies for violations of her rights under the Convention (paragraph 6.5 of the Opinions).

The Committee's conclusions: The State party violated the author's rights under articles 2, 3, 14 and 15 of the Convention, taking into account the Committee's General Recommendations No. 28 (2010), No. 33 (2015), No. 34 (2016) and No. 35 (2017) on gender-based violence against women, updating General Recommendation No. 19 (paragraph 7 of the Opinions).

 

 

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