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Civil society, officials mull national human rights organisation

The proposed body will help enshrine human rights in Cambodian law, providing the government lends its support to the idea

THE establishment of a  national human rights body has taken another tentative step forward, with government and civil society providing input on recommendations for an umbrella organisation they say will integrate Cambodia into regional human rights mechanisms.

At a conference in Siem Reap over the weekend, the Cambodian Working Group (CWG) for an Asean Human Rights Mechanism welcomed comments from government and civil society on the proposed National Human Rights Institution (NHRI), which will come under the auspices of the proposed Asean Human Rights Body.

"The NHRI ... will have the role of linking the Asean human rights and the Cambodian human rights mechanisms," said Pa Nguon Teang, secretary general of the CWG, adding that he would soon hold meetings with the government-run Cambodian Human Rights Committee (CHRC) to establish a timetable for submitting a draft law forming the organisation to the National Assembly.

"All the participants agreed on the establishment of the NHRI, but there are still points that we need to discuss," he added.

Political will

But Kek Galabru, president of local rights group Licadho, said the will of the government to fully implement the law governing the NHRI's operation would be vital.

"[At the conference], we discussed a lot about how we can make sure it will be independent," she said, adding that Prime Minister Hun Sen had lent his support to the NHRI in 2006.

"It depends firstly on the political will of the government."

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