Cambodia denies UN envoy’s request to meet Kem Sokha
THE United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in Cambodia says her request to meet former opposition leader Kem Sokha has been rejected.
UN envoy Rhona Smith said in an email on Tuesday that she will not meet Sokha during her current visit to the kingdom.
“My request to meet with Mr Kem Sokha was denied,” Smith said.
Justice Ministry spokesman Chin Malin said Smith’s request was rejected because of security concerns.
“Sokha is under court supervision, so her request can only be fulfilled by a judge,” Malin said on Tuesday. “There are clear reasons why Sokha is banned from seeing people listed on the court’s prohibited list,” he added without elaborating. Sokha was released on bail from Tboung Khmum province’s Trapeang Phlong prison in September. His bail conditions ban him from making trips abroad and meeting with individuals linked to his treason case.
Government spokesman Phay Siphan on Tuesday slammed Smith for attempting to meet with Sokha. “She is not a partner of the now-dissolved CNRP, so I think that she should just meet with government officials in order to cooperate and work together in promoting human rights in Cambodia,” Siphan said.
During her visit to Cambodia, Smith is expected to hold meet with several government officials.
In the email, Smith said she is waiting for her schedule to be finalised. “I will also meet with representatives of the diplomatic community and civil society organisations working on human rights and with specific interests in this mission,” she said.
Smith is expected to present her findings to the UN’s Human Rights Council next September.
Ny Sokha, a senior official with the rights group Adhoc, said his organisation met with Smith on Monday to discuss concerns regarding human rights, freedom of assembly and freedom of expression.
“She will bring these matters to discuss with government officials,” Ny Sokha said. – Khmer Times