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Foreign ministry spokesman disputes ‘biased’ human rights report

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Chem Widhya (centre right), Secretary of State of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation meets with Vitit Muntarbhorn (centre left), Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Cambodia on August 25. MFAIC

Foreign ministry spokesman disputes ‘biased’ human rights report

Spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Chum Sounry expressed his ‘utter dismay’ at the statement by Vitit Muntarbhorn, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia who ended his mission to the Kingdom and released his statement on August 26.

The reaction came following his release of a 10-point human rights agenda to improve the human rights situation in Cambodia. In his 7-page conclusion report – written after his first visit to the country – he urged opening up civil and political space and paving the way for democratic reform.

“Cambodia is faced with a pervasive paradox. Since 2017, when the main opposition party was disbanded unjustly by judicial order, the country has effectively been under single-party rule, with all seats of the National Assembly in the hands of that monopoly,” Muntarbhorn said.

Chounsry said in an August 26 press statement that following his 11-day visit to Cambodia, Vitit had ‘very limited recognition of the progress and achievements Cambodia has realised’.

He said the special rapporteur’s statement remains largely biased, prejudiced, and unfounded on a number of issues.

“It is with deep regret that despite the government’s repeated calls, the Special Rapporteur has continued to fail to address a worrying trend of human rights challenges that Cambodia is encountering, namely hate speech, slander, disinformation, incitement of xenophobia, and provocation to sedition under the guise of freedom of expression, all of which the rapporteur remains astonishingly silent on,” the spokesman said.

He added that Cambodia remains committed to working with all partners to promote and protect human rights for all within the rule of law, and to pursue its irreversible democratic journey with pluralism. This was especially true of next year’s national elections, which would be transparent, free and fair, he said.

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