Upon returning to Cambodia, the Community Legal Education
Center (CLEC) expresses its grave concern for the health of Cambodian garment
worker Ms. Sry Ratha, who is currently detained in Kluang prison, Johor,
Malaysia. After failing an annual health test Ratha's visa was cancelled and
she was subsequently arrested and detained on 9 September, 2013.
Last week CLEC traveled to Malaysia to conduct further
investigation into the arrest of the Nike supply chain worker. However, upon
arriving at Kluang prison on 19 October, 2013 CLEC's program officer was denied
entry to visit Ratha.
Despite the claims of the Cambodian embassy and the factory
management, all independent reports indicate that Ratha's health is quickly
deteriorating. Reports confirm that there is blood in her urine, she is
experiencing abdominal pain and swelling, itchy genitals, as well as fever and
intense coughing. Further, the symptoms are so severe that she has not been
able to sleep for the past five nights.
This is completely contradictory to all reports from the
embassy as well as the factory management who claim she has improved and her
health is now fine.
Brief reports from doctors suggest a urinary tract infection
that has now spread to her kidneys and/or bladder. What is most concerning is
that by all independent reports it is increasing in severity. Ratha says she is
only provided basic medication and is showing no signs of improvement.
Further concerning is the conduct of the embassy and the
factory management. Reports indicate that embassy staff, following repeated
requests for intervention, have consistently failed to ensure Ratha's health
and safety or deliver accurate information on her case or health.
In addition, Malaysian partners confirm this is not the
first such incident involving the Nike supplier, Honsin Apparel Sdn Bhd. Rather
than helping Ratha to get the treatment she needed following her failed health
test, for two months she was subjected to a further five health tests at the
behest of the factory management. Factory management also encouraged Ratha to
travel back to Cambodia by road without a visa. In addition she was delivered
to Immigration Police as opposed to the Cambodian embassy. Further, the details
of her arrest were not passed onto other Cambodian workers or the family of the
victim. Alternatively, the factory purported to workers that Ratha was fine and
was being hidden from police. Only three days later was Ratha able to contact
workers to inform them of her arrest and detention.
The seriousness of Ratha's sickness requires immediate
action. If this is in fact a kidney infection there is the possibility of long
term damage or even death before her scheduled release on 30 November, 2013.
Based on the severity of her illness and the conduct of the
parties involved we strongly urge the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' immediate
and effective engagement with the Malaysian Immigration Department to secure
Ratha's transfer from the prison facility to a hospital. The transfer should
take place no later than 30 October, 2013 following the scheduled rehearing of
As a prominent investor in the Malaysian garment industry we
strongly urge Nike to engage with the Malaysian government to secure this
transfer. Nike must make it clear that their business is conditional upon the
health and safety of their Malaysian supply chain workers, regardless of their
The factory implicated, Honsin Apparel Sdn. Bhd., is a
subsidiary of Prolexus Berhad who claim that "besides Malaysia and China,
management is seriously thinking of Cambodia as the next destination for its
latest plant because of its lower wage structure." We demand that Proxlexus and
its buyers respect the health, safety and rights of Cambodian workers before
considering any such investment. This can begin by ensuring immediate and
effective treatment for Ratha.
Since 2011 CLEC has provided services to the families of
five deceased Cambodian workers in Malaysia. We stress the absolute urgency
with which all parties must act to avoid yet another tragedy.
For more information please contact:
Mr. Huy Pichsovann,
Program Officer, +855 66 777 026