Civil Groups and NGOs Appeal to the Authorities to Act regarding the Kep Tragedy

Workers on Jan. 5 search for the bodies of victims following the collapse of a building under construction in Kep Province on Jan. 3. Photo: Central.

Civil groups and NGOs Wednesday urged the Cambodian government to investigate and charge the individuals who oversaw the 6-story building under construction that collapsed in Kep Province on Jan. 3, claiming the lives of 36 persons and injuring 23 others.   


"If that case is absolved, this will show that there is no law enforcement for the future," they said in a petition to the government. "The case of the building collapse in Kep, the officers enforcing laws and regulations and the authorities in charge in that case must face the law. Do not forgive anyone: initiator or accomplice." 


The Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights and the Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Federation of Cambodia held a press conference Wednesday to introduce the petition they submitted to the government. “The Cambodian government must take serious measures to guarantee quality and safe workplace for construction workers," the petition states. 


Their appeal to the government follows the Kampot Provincial Court releasing on bail Tuesday the owners of the building that collapsed, and Prime Minister Hun Sen announcing that no official in Kep Province would be fired because of the incident as the building collapse was due to construction flaws attributed to a building contractor who died in the collapse. 


"The person in charge of the construction project and the owner should not avoid criminal charges just by paying compensation to the victims," the petition said. 


In their appeal Wednesday, the civil groups and NGOs called on the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction to conduct strict checks on construction companies before handing them licenses, and to have inspectors check sites on a regular basis to prevent such accidents to happen. 


The civil groups and NGOs said that they have found that many construction companies do not implement proper working conditions and also abuse their workers’ rights.


Attempts were made Wednesday to get comments on the petition from officials of the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction and the Ministry of Labor, but they proved unsuccessful.


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