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Rights envoy to spend five days in Kingdom

Surya Subedi, the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in Cambodia, will arrive in Phnom Penh on Monday for a visit aimed at examining the Kingdom’s parliamentary system.

“I will meet with a range of interlocutors to continue my study on the work of the National Assembly and Senate with a view to exploring how their role in the promotion and protection of human rights could be strengthened,” Subedi said in a UN statement yesterday.

Subedi plans to meet with government officials, donors and NGO representatives during his five-day visit, in which he will also focus on “current human rights issues, including freedoms of expression and association, the draft Law on NGOs, human rights and land disputes”, the UN statement said.

At the conclusion of his previous visit in February, the Nepalese law professor raised concerns about Cambodia’s weak judicial system and the frequent speech-related prosecutions of activists and government critics. He also said the government’s widely-criticised draft NGO law was unnecessary.

Subedi’s predecessor, the Kenyan lawyer Yash Ghai, had a famously stormy relationship with Cambodian officials and was candid in his criticisms of the government. Subedi has thus far attempted to maintain cordial relations while still critiquing the country’s human rights shortcomings.

During a visit last year, Subedi said he was “disappointed” that he could not meet with Prime Minister Hun Sen, who was sick, a remark the premier later branded disrespectful.

Following Subedi’s visit in February, however, Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan called the trip “very fruitful”. Phay Siphan said yesterday that Subedi’s visit was part of “the partnership between the government and the UN to improve human rights issues”.

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