Land evictions, judicial reform to feature high on the agenda during the three-day hearing.
JUDICIAL reform, corruption and land rights are expected to be high on the agenda when Cambodia comes before the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva for its first formal rights review this afternoon.
A UN summary report compiling the recommendations filed by 23 local and international rights organisations in April flagged concerns including continuing legal impunity and increases in the “rate and scale of land-grabbing and forced evictions” that have plagued the country since 2004.
The UPR is not the only event in geneva − this is a continuing process.
Surya Prasad Subedi, the UN’s special human rights rapporteur to Cambodia, said the three-day Universal Periodic Review hearing would give Cambodia “an opportunity ... to engage in a comprehensive manner” on rights issues with other member states.
Subedi also said he hoped the government would take the hearing seriously, after it was criticised at a similar review at the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in Geneva in May for sending just a single delegate – UN ambassador Sun Suon – to the two-day hearing.
“It is a good opportunity for the government of Cambodia to defend its human rights record before an international human rights body. The more the government appears taking the matter seriously the more the government will receive credit for its endeavours in this regard,” he said by email.
The quadrennial review, established with the reform of the UN’s rights body in 2006, is the main mechanism by which each UN member state is scrutinised on human rights issues.
During a three-hour session today, the Cambodian delegation is expected to answer questions from the council, the result of which will shape an outcome report to be adopted on Thursday.
Om Yentieng, senior adviser to Prime Minister Hun Sen and head of the government-run Cambodian Committee of Human Rights, said on Monday that the government had sent three officials to Geneva, including its ambassador to the UN, to attend the UPR session.
“I do not expect anything from the meeting in Geneva because the situation in Cambodia is not the same as what is written in the human rights reports,” he said. “What we have seen is that Cambodia is getting more progressive from day to day.”
Thun Saray, president of the rights group Adhoc, said the review would not lead to an immediate improvement in the human rights situation, but appealed to the government to accept its recommendations and make a plan for joint NGO-government action to improve the rights situation.
“The UPR is not only the event in Geneva – this is a continuing process,” he said. “We would like to appeal to the government to take this issue seriously.”