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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Awareness raised on Rights Day

Awareness raised on Rights Day

081211_01.jpg
081211_01.jpg

NGOs laud govt efforts, but highlight ongoing violations

Photo by:
AFP

A girl stands in the middle of a crowd during the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Day in Phnom Penh on Wednesday.

CIVIL society groups say that human rights are slowly gaining respect in Cambodia but called on the government to take extra action to eliminate all forms of rights abuses during celebrations to mark the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

To mark the event Wednesday, around 3,000 students, garment workers, teachers, ethnic minorities and civil society representatives marched from Wat Lanka past the Independence Monument to Wat Botum Park.

A joint statement by the NGO Working Group for Human Rights Day acknowledged that there have been some achievements in the field.

But the group said that there were still ongoing restrictions on the freedoms  of peaceful assembly and expression, as well as continued land-grabbing and the exploitation of women and children.

The opposition Sam Rainsy Party also issued a statement, saying that in the 18 years since the Paris Peace Accords, Cambodia still lacked an independent, neutral and impartial mechanism to monitor human rights violations, with the majority of these incidents going unchecked.

"The lack of neutrality and rampant corruption in the judicial system allow violators to remain free while victims and their family members fear for their lives," the party stated.

But Om Yentieng, head of the government's Human Rights Committee, said the main task was to educate people about their rights, noting the government's efforts to reduce mob killings and pretrial detentions.

"We have tried to eliminate the abuse of the people's rights," he said. "Democracy in Cambodia is guaranteed and that is a good point."

Sok Sam Oeun, chairman of the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee, said the situation had improved in 2008 but that popular understanding about human rights remained limited.

"I hope the people's understanding of their rights, freedoms and the role of the government will be enlarged," he told the Post.

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