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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Money, not morality underpins law: report

Money, not morality underpins law: report

UN Special Rapporteur Yash Ghai presented his latest

report on the state of human rights in Cambodia to the UN human rights

council in Geneva, saying that in Cambodia today “whether to obey the law

ceases to be a moral question but one driven by opportunism.”

Ghai visited Cambodia from

December 1-10 last year, on his fourth mission to the Kingdom. His report,

entitled “Technical assistance and capacity building” – is centered on the

theme of the rule of law.

Ghai’s previous offerings have

drawn outraged denials from the Cambodian government who claim the UN envoy

only focuses on the negative aspects of human rights.

This latest report looks set to be

similarly infuriating for the government as it claims that in Cambodia “above

all, people have been taught to fear the rulers, by their caprice and

un-predictability and especially brute force.”

Ghai argues that in Cambodia there

is no rule of law so “what a powerful individual or group cannot obtain by legal means, they try to

obtain by force.”

Om Yentieng, president of the

government-run Cambodian Human Rights Committee, issued a statement March 20

saying that, once again, the government has to express its “disappointment” as

the report “ignored the progress and the efforts made by the government of Cambodia.”

Yentieng refuted Ghai’s assertion

that “the Cambodian judiciary has failed” and that the rule of law is non

existent in Cambodia by pointing to key elements of progress – such as the

drafting of the civil and penal codes – in the field of legal and judicial


“Obviously, no country can claim

that it achieves full human rights,” Yentieng said. “However, it is an

undeniable fact that Cambodia

remains committed to human rights and the efforts must be acknowledged.”

Ghai’s latest report notes that “requests to meet Prime

Minister Hun Sen or any ministers or senior public servants were rejected,

frustrating any dialogue.”



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