Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambodian representatives criticise UN panel on ‘devolution of democracy’

Cambodian representatives criticise UN panel on ‘devolution of democracy’

Kem Monovithya, former Cambodia National Rescue Party public affairs official and daughter of deputy party leader Kem Sokha, attends an opposition rally in 2013 in Phnom Penh. She is scheduled to speak on a United Nations panel on the “Devolution of Democracy in Cambodia” later today.
Kem Monovithya, former Cambodia National Rescue Party public affairs official and daughter of imprisoned former party leader Kem Sokha, attends an opposition rally in 2013 in Phnom Penh. She is scheduled to speak on a United Nations panel on the “Devolution of Democracy in Cambodia” later today. Photo supplied

Cambodian representatives criticise UN panel on ‘devolution of democracy’

The Permanent Mission of Cambodia to the United Nations preemptively lashed out at an upcoming panel organised by its US and EU counterparts on the “Devolution of Democracy in Cambodia”, calling the event “arrogant and disrespectful”.

The panelists who will speak are Kem Monovithya, former Cambodia National Rescue Party public affairs official and daughter of jailed opposition leader Kem Sokha; Cambodian Center for Independent Media head Pa Nguon Teang; and Human Rights Watch Asia Advocacy Director John Sifton. According to Kem, UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights to Cambodia Rhona Smith is also expected to speak at the panel, which will be held today at 11:30am in New York City.

“The Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Cambodia registers its strong protest against such panel discussion, which is politically motivated with the clear intent to mislead international public opinion,” the statement reads. “The Permanent Mission considers this arrogant and disrespectful behaviour as a serious interference in the internal affairs of the Kingdom of Cambodia, which runs counter to the principle of respect for sovereignty and non-interference as stipulated in Article 2 of the Charter of the United Nations.”

The panel is set to discuss the “current situation in Cambodia”, which has seen the country’s only viable opposition party summarily dissolved on widely decried accusations that it was fomenting foreign-backed “revolution”. Noting next year's scheduled national elections, the event announcement highlights that “it is important to ensure that the fundamental rights of freedom of assembly, free association and of the press be upheld and that genuine competition in a multi-party democracy be seen as the necessity that it is”.

Cambodia’s permanent mission, for its part, insisted those rights have been respected, maintaining that any restrictions have been imposed according to the law. The arrest of Sokha, for example, was justified by his “treason”, the statement contends.

“[He] openly boasted in a recorded video addressed to a Cambodian community audience in Australia that he had been coached by a super power to overthrow the elected Cambodian Government by ways of inciting popular violence modeling after the example of the events in Yugoslavia and Serbia, unveiling his complete and total obedience to his super power,” the statement reads.

In the 2013 speech used to justify his arrest, Sokha had actually talked about receiving advice from the United States to develop a political strategy to challenge the ruling party, though he did not mention using violence in any form or operating outside the democratic process.

Updates to follow.

MOST VIEWED

  • Restrictions re-imposed in capital as Covid cases surge

    Amid the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has shown no sign of subsiding with 750 infections and 10 deaths reported on June 2 alone, the Phnom Penh Municipal Administration has decided to re-impose the suspension of all occupations and business activities deemed as posing high risk of

  • Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville expressway 51% complete

    The construction of the nearly $2 billion Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway is 51.35 per cent complete and is expected to be finished in 2023, according to Ministry of Public Works and Transport secretary of state Vasim Sorya. Invested in by Cambodian PPSHV Expressway Co Ltd, the first expressway in

  • First 7-Eleven store to open mid-June, ambassador says

    Thai retail conglomerate CP All Pcl will open Cambodia’s first 7-Eleven convenience store in mid-June, Cambodian ambassador to Thailand Ouk Sorphorn told The Post on June 1. The Bangkok-listed 7-Eleven franchise operator, the retail arm of Charoen Pokphand Group Co Ltd, granted CP All (Cambodia)

  • With herd immunity likely in 2022, is Cambodia ready to reopen for tourism?

    The government aims to inoculate 80 per cent of the target population by June next year, giving it a head start among regional peers to reboot the sector but first, it has to do a few things to up its game A sign on a glass

  • US embassy guard gets Covid despite two doses of Pfizer jab

    The Covid-19 tracking commission on June 4 said a security guard at the US embassy in Phnom Penh had contracted the novel coronavirus, despite having received a second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech shot two weeks ago. Embassy spokesperson Chad Roedemeier confirmed the SARS-CoV-2 infection to The

  • US wants 'full access' to Ream Naval Base

    On June 11, the US embassy's Defense Attaché Colonel Marcus M Ferrara visited Ream Nava Base in coordination with Cambodian officials following the recent approval of Prime minister Hun Sen to allay the concerns on Chinese military presence at the base as raised by US Deputy