Subscribe Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Human-rights vision in bullet points

Human-rights vision in bullet points

Human-rights vision in bullet points

The final preview to Cambodian civil society of the highly anticipated ASEAN Human Rights Declaration was a one-and-a-half-page bulleted list, drawing the ire of human-rights advocates who have long called for ASEAN to end the culture of secrecy.

A forum held in Siem Reap yesterday, attended by about 60 NGO representatives, judges, police, court officials and students, was led by Om Yentieng, president of the Cambodian Human Rights Committee.

“Now we would like you to read the landmark document, and if you have any ideas to add or you disagree with the points of the document, please let us know,” he said, adding that he would return feedback to the Cambodian committee before the declaration was finalised and endorsed by ASEAN members in November.

The bullet-point list is divided into broad categories of rights, such as civil, political, economic and cultural rights, and lists the type of rights in note form.

“Human rights are still the problem for the ASEAN community,” Yentieng conceded, pointing to the consultation meeting as satisfactory stakeholder engagement to alleviate concerns about transparency.

But rights organisations that have criticised ASEAN over the declaration’s secrecy said the attempt to engage fell well short of expected standards.

“Bullet points is not transparency. How can you comment on bullet points?” Cambodian Centre for Human Rights president Ou Virak said.

“Clearly, nobody is going to photo-copy the actual draft and distribute it, so you have to ask: what are the reasons behind trying so hard to keep it secret?

“This kind of process, in my view, makes them look like a laughing stock.”

Amnesty International, which has repeatedly called for greater transparency in the drafting of the declaration, said it was disappointed only leaked versions, summaries and bullet points were made available.

“In a semi-legal text of such importance, whether an ‘or’ is used or an ‘and’ can make a world of difference to the scope of a human right. Therefore, a half-page bullet-point list is not sufficient,” Amnesty legal adviser Dr Yuval Ginbar said.

“There is too much catering for the interests of governments at the expense of human rights.”

Yesterday’s list included the oft-criticised contextualisation of human rights within regional and national settings, but also called for “no double standard and politicisation in the realisation” of human rights.

To contact the reporters on this story: Thik Kaliyann and Bridget Di Certo at [email protected]

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Thy Sovantha threatens new suit

    Social media celebrity and card-carrying CPP member Thy Sovantha yesterday said she will file a lawsuit against wildlife NGO head Suwanna Gauntlett alleging discrimination after the latter allegedly denied her access to an ecotourism program the group is launching today in Koh Kong province. The

  • Police raid Siem Reap party, arrest 10 foreigners over ‘pornographic’ images

    A group of 10 foreign tourists appeared in court today after being arrested for producing “pornographic” photos in Siem Reap town on Thursday, while dozens more were detained temporarily and let go after being lectured on their behaviour, according to authorities. A report posted to the

  • Hun Sen’s in-law removed from RCAF after cockfighting rings raided

    Thai Phany, the nephew-in-law of Prime Minister Hun Sen who is accused of running two large cockfighting rings, has been removed as a general in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces. Phany, formerly a one-star brigadier general, was removed by royal decree on December 19, according to

  • Government approves plan to relocate Phnom Penh’s airport

    The government has signed off on a proposal to build a new airport to serve Phnom Penh and has earmarked land in Kandal province for the $1.5 billion project. A new international airport to replace the existing Phnom Penh International Airport will be constructed on partially