UN en­voy calls for more ac­tion to pro­tect hu­man rights in Cam­bo­dia

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - Asean Focus -

THE UN spe­cial rap­por­teur on hu­man rights in Cam­bo­dia has urged its gov­ern­ment to bet­ter pro­tect, re­spect and pro­mote hu­man rights, cit­ing wor­ri­some de­vel­op­ments in the coun­try that por­trays it­self as a plu­ral­ist lib­eral democ­racy.

In her re­port to the Hu­man Rights Coun­cil in Geneva on Tues­day, Rhona Smith noted that non­govern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tions have in re­cent months come un­der gov­ern­ment pres­sure and there has been a dra­matic re­duc­tion in free­dom of the me­dia.

“The de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of the demo­cratic space and free­dom of ex­pres­sion in Cam­bo­dia is a pri­mary con­cern, with many NGOS and hu­man rights de­fend­ers sub­ject to threats, harassment, ar­rest, and/or ex­ten­sive pre-trial de­ten­tion,” she said.

Smith said a range of laws have been em­ployed to re­strict crit­i­cism against the gov­ern­ment and quell po­lit­i­cal de­bate.

For ex­am­ple, she said, changes in the Law on Po­lit­i­cal Par­ties pro­hibit any­one con­victed of a crime from hold­ing po­lit­i­cal of­fice and per­mit the dis­so­lu­tion of any po­lit­i­cal party deemed to be se­ces­sion­ist or sub­ver­sive.

It also pro­hibits a party from us­ing voice mes­sages, images, writ­ten doc­u­ments of a per­son con­victed of a felony or mis­de­meanor.

The law has been ap­plied in the case of Sam Rainsy, the for­mer leader of the largest op­po­si­tion Cam­bo­dia Na­tional Res­cue Party, who is liv­ing abroad and faces ar­rest if he re­turns to Cam­bo­dia due to mul­ti­ple con­vic­tions and new court cases reg­is­tered against him.

The CNRP’S cur­rent leader Kem Sokha is al­ready in jail, after be­ing ar­rested early this month and charged with trea­son, while other op­po­si­tion lead­ers have also been de­tained.

Smith said the reg­u­lar state­ments of gov­ern­ment min­is­ters con­tain­ing vi­o­lent rhetoric and threats add to the cli­mate of fear ahead of next year’s gen­eral elec­tion, sched­uled to be held in July.

“As I have said be­fore, with power comes re­spon­si­bil­ity, and reg­u­lar threats and scare­mon­ger­ing have no place in a peace­ful so­ci­ety such as Cam­bo­dia, which still bears the scars of its tragic past,” she added.

Cam­bo­dia’s rep­re­sen­ta­tives at the ses­sion sug­gested that Smith’s state­ments were based on selective and un­ver­i­fied sources.

They charged that po­lit­i­cal ma­nip­u­la­tion had been per­sis­tently con­ducted against the gov­ern­ment of Prime Min­is­ter Hun Sen, while in­sist­ing that it re­mains com­mit­ted to hu­man rights.

– Ky­odo

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Myanmar

© PressReader. All rights reserved.