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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Minister slams UN rep over alleged ‘prejudice’

OHCHR Cambodia representative Wan-Hea Lee speaks last month in Phnom Penh during a public forum on the Paris Peace Accords. Photo supplied
OHCHR Cambodia representative Wan-Hea Lee speaks last month in Phnom Penh during a public forum on the Paris Peace Accords. Photo supplied

Minister slams UN rep over alleged ‘prejudice’

Foreign Minister Prak Sokhon slammed UN Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) country representative Wan-Hea Lee for alleged “prejudice” in a two-page missive released on Friday.

The letter was sent to UN Development Project resident representative Claire Van der Vaeren, blasting Wan-Hea Lee for having “crossed the red line of the UN charter . . . under[m]ining the respect for sovereignty and non-interference” when she requested an explanation for the ban recently imposed on opposition leader Sam Rainsy.

Sokhon decried the request as Lee “expressing her prejudices against the Royal Government of Cambodia” on the matter. He went on to reference OHCHR’s memorandum of understanding with the Interior Ministry, which expired last December and has yet to be renewed.

“In the absence of a valid Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Royal Government of Cambodia and the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the current operation and activities of the OHCHR in Cambodia, including those of its Country Representative, are not legitimate,” Sokhonn wrote.

“I would like to reiterate [Cambodia’s] firm commitment to improving the smooth and effective cooperation with the OHCHR through the early conclusion of the new MoU on the basis of the principle of respect for sovereignty and non-interference in Cambodia’s internal affairs.”

OHCHR’s Lee and Foreign Ministry spokesman Chum Sounry declined to comment on the letter, while Van der Vaeren was on leave and could not be reached.

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