Does the De-Facto Government Think It Can Afford to Lose Cambodia's Largest Buyers?

This week high level discussions took place between representatives of the de-facto government and major international brands sourcing Cambodian garments. As the trial of the 23 approaches, the message communicated was clear: “due to [the] reaction of consumers and the disruptionto production and shipping caused by continued unrest, Cambodia [is] at risk of losing its status as a strategic sourcing market, with an impact on future investment and growth.”

Brands expressed their immediate concern that “the outcome of the judicial process for the detainees must be based on evidence and stands up to international scrutiny to build trust and confidence.”

Cambodian civil society, including the United Nations, is unanimous in its assessment that there is no evidence to support the charges against the 23.

The brands present at this week’s meeting were a delegation of the 30 signatories to letters delivered earlier this year. Based on consignee data, conservative estimates would place the purchasing power of these signatory brands at least 60% of the garment industry. This equates to approximately US$3.3 billion dollars annually, equal to almost one quarter of Cambodia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

As IndustriALL Global Union noted “one major clothing brand revealed that it had cut its sourcing from Cambodia by 50% in the past year due to concerns about political instability and human rights violations in the country.” With such high stakes, the de-facto government cannot continue to play games with the lives and rights of garment workers, particularly those currently detained.

We demand the release of the 23 without charge, to begin the process of restoring justice and stability in the garment sector.

Further, we encourage international consumers to continueto react to the injustice endured by Cambodian garment workers, to ensure brands continue to hold Cambodia accountable for the treatment of its workers.

Watch CLEC’s latest video depicting workers' struggles: