Following an inter-agency investigation, Cambodia’s ambassador to the US is reportedly set to bring a lawsuit against companies accused of using prison labour to manufacture goods in the Cambodian garment sector with the intention to export to the US.
- In February 2023, the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) wrote to the Cambodian government regarding allegations that two companies in Cambodia had purchased garments and textile products which had been manufactured using prison labour, with the intention of exporting the products to the US.
- The goods were allegedly produced by inmates inside Cambodia’s main women’s prison – Correctional Center 2 (CC2) in Phnom Penh – for two companies. Neither of the companies, which are understood to be suppliers, have been named.
- Under the US Tariff Act of 1930, all goods produced or manufactured wholly or in part by penal labour are prohibited from entering the US and are subject to detainment and seizure.
- Under Cambodian law (Article 71 of the Law on Prisons), private firms are allowed to enter into a contract to allow prisoners to work for any organization or individual - but the export of prison-made goods has been prohibited since March 2012.
- Cambodia’s ambassador to the US reportedly commenced an inter-agency investigation in November 2022, and has been collecting evidence to bring a court case against the two companies.
- CC2, which is the main women’s prison in Cambodia, has been flagged repeatedly by the NGO Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defence of Human Rights (LICADHO) on its poor conditions. Inmates reportedly face overcrowding, unsafe and unsanitary conditions.