Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambodia rejects call by UN for open invite

Cambodia rejects call by UN for open invite

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Cambodia Human Rights Committee spokesperson Chin Malin (left) on Tuesday said the Kingdom had never rejected any UN special procedure, but as a sovereign country, it had the right to permit or reject any such visit. Supplied

Cambodia rejects call by UN for open invite

Cambodia has rejected a UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) recommendation submitted by five countries at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) calling on the Kingdom to issue a standing invitation to UN special procedures to visit at any time.

The rejection was part of the 25 recommendations Cambodia noted.

Cambodia officially accepted 173 out of 198 recommendations and noted 25 last week during the 41st session of the UNHRC held in Geneva, Switzerland.

The recommendations were submitted by 73 countries during the 32nd session of the UPR working group held in late January.

The 25 recommendations were classified into 10 categories.

In the first category, five countries – Germany, Croatia, Ukraine, the Czech Republic and Latvia –recommended Cambodia issue a standing invitation for all special procedures and engage constructively with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and special procedures.

“A standing invitation is an open invitation extended by a government to all thematic special procedures. By extending a standing invitation, states announce that they will always accept requests to visit from all special procedures,” the OHCHR states.

Special procedures refer to either an individual called a “Special Rapporteur” or an “Independent Expert”, or a “Working Group” composed of five members.

As part of their working methods, mandate-holders undertake country visits to examine the human rights situation at the national level, according to the OHCHR.

“The Royal Government does not have the policy to issue standing invitations. We reserve our right to welcome all visits by the UN special procedures of all thematic mandates based on actual circumstances."

“In fact, there have been several visits made by Special Rapporteurs and thematic working groups of the special procedures of the UN Human Rights Council,” the government said of the rejection.

Cambodia Human Rights Committee spokesperson Chin Malin on Tuesday said the Kingdom had never rejected any UN special procedure, but as a sovereign country, it had the right to permit or reject any such visit.

Freedom of expression

Another set of recommendations urging Cambodia to repeal the provisions of the Criminal Code with regards to freedom of expression was made by six countries.

They said the provisions could be used to restrict the freedoms of expression, assembly and association, as well as decriminalise offences such as defamation.

However, the government responded: “The Cambodian Criminal Code does not hinder freedoms of expression and peaceful and legal assembly. The code provides for the punishment of offenders who violate the law and human rights.”

It said defamation was not subject to imprisonment, but it was a criminal offence that could incur a fine.

The government stated that there were many media outlets in Cambodia, and they were free to publish without prior censorship or restrictions from the government.

Cambodia also noted recommendations by Australia, Austria and Brazil to amend political, NGO and trade union laws.

They said Cambodia should ensure that all such laws were consistent with a state’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The US, Canada and New Zealand urged Cambodia to release Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) president Kem Sokha from a charge of treason and reinstate his Supreme Court-dissolved party.

They also called for the unconditional rehabilitation of the 118 former CNRP members banned from politics following the party’s dissolution in 2017.

“What Cambodia has done is based on the principles of democracy and the rule of law in order to safeguard the security and public order like every other established democratic nation,” Cambodia responded.

France and Canada recommended the Kingdom establish mechanisms to settle land disputes and adopt measures to prevent the unlawful eviction of Cambodians from their land.

However, Cambodia said it already had mechanisms in place to resolve such problems. It said there were no cases of people being evicted from legally owned land.

The government said all relocations came with compensation based on the market price for those who legally owned the land, with the provision of appropriate compensation for those who legally occupied land but had no documents proving ownership. The principles were based on mutual consent.

Two countries recommended the Kingdom rein in the excessive power of the executive branch to influence the work of judges and prosecutors by amending relevant laws.

However, Cambodia said the executive did not interfere with the legal system.

In rejecting Finland’s recommendation urging the amendment of the telecommunications law and inter-ministerial prakas on the control of websites and social media, Cambodia said the law was created to protect the rights of users and their privacy.

Chak Sopheap, the executive director of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights, said it was encouraging to see that the majority of recommendations had been accepted by Cambodia.

She encouraged the government to take concrete measures to ensure the effective implementation of all accepted recommendations.

“It is disheartening that the government decided to note certain recommendations regarding the amendment of laws which currently excessively restrict fundamental freedoms and some recommendations regarding media freedoms,” Sopheap said.

The government could still improve the human rights situation in the noted recommendations, she added.

MOST VIEWED

  • Ministry requests school opening

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport on Thursday said it would request a decision from Prime Minister Hun Sen to allow a small number of schools to reopen next month. Ministry spokesman Ros Soveacha said if the request is granted, higher-standard schools will reopen

  • Kingdom eyes India FTA, China deal set for August

    Cambodia is studying the possibility of establishing a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with India to open a new market with the second-largest regional economy. This comes as an FTA with China is scheduled to be signed next month while similar negotiations with South Korea

  • Judge lands in court after crashing into alleged thief

    Sen Sok district police on Thursday sent a Koh Kong Provincial Court judge to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on manslaughter charges after he crashed his car into a woman riding a motorbike on Wednesday, killing her. District police chief Hour Meng Vang told The

  • Preah Vihear court drops charges against villagers

    The Preah Vihear Provincial Court has dropped all charges against eight ethnic Kuoy villagers who were in a land dispute with the Hengfu Group Sugar Industry Co Ltd since 2014. Wednesday’s decision was made by the judge who tried the case on June 10. The eight

  • Gov’t to boost Siem Reap tourism

    The Ministry of Tourism released the results of an inter-ministerial committee meeting concerning Siem Reap province’s Tourism Development Master Plan for 2020-2035 on Wednesday, revealing the government’s plan to improve the overall tourist landscape there. The meeting was attended by Minister of Tourism

  • Residents ordered to remove structures on Phnom Penh’s canal

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng has ordered authorities to act against the perpetrators who built houses along the Luo 5 canal in Meanchey district. The municipal administration plans to create a committee to solve the matter. The order was given on Wednesday while Sreng led

  • ‘On the offensive’: Cambodia to load up on loans to stimulate economy

    As the dust settles on the economy, Cambodia comes to grips with what needs to be done to turn the economy around, starting with a big shopping list for credit ‘We are going on the offensive,” Vongsey Vissoth, Ministry of Economy and Finance permanent secretary

  • Eighty replacement peacekeepers set for Mali mission despite Covid

    Eighty Cambodian blue helmet soldiers who completed the peacekeeping mission under the UN umbrella in Mali will return to Cambodia on Friday, said the Centre for Peacekeeping Forces spokeswoman Kosal Malida. “To protect their families and communities from the Covid-19 pandemic, the 80 are required to

  • Government set to make up for cancelled April holiday

    The government is set to make up for a five-day Khmer New Year holiday late this month or early next month. The holiday was earlier cancelled due to the onset of Covid-19. The announcement is expected on Friday as the government is studying a range

  • Families told to register for cash handouts

    The government has called on poor families to apply to commune authorities for evaluation to receive financial support during the Covid-19 crisis. A $300 million budget has been planned for implementation within a year. Ministry of Economy and Finance secretary of state Vongsey Visoth said this