Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Smith expresses concerns over Cambodian situation



Smith expresses concerns over Cambodian situation

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Rhona Smith is the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia. Rhona Smith via Facebook

Smith expresses concerns over Cambodian situation

Rhona Smith, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia on Friday issued a statement expressing “grave concerns” over the “heightened political crackdown across Cambodia”.

She also called on the government to respect the rights to freedom of opinion, expression and assembly.

But government spokesperson Phay Siphan said on Friday that Smith should not interfere in Cambodia's sovereignty, and that the Kingdom had merely taken action to protect peace and prevent activities that could lead to toppling the elected government.

Smith said she had since August received information that at least 89 people had been charged with “plotting against the state”, and at least 52 people had been arrested in 20 provinces. That, she said, brought the number to more than 200.

“The rapid increase in the number of arrests and serious charges filed against CNRP members is alarming.

“Arrests based on exercising the rights to freedom of opinion and expression, through political discourse and commenting on public affairs, are not permitted. Cambodia must respect its international obligations,” she said.

Smith said civil society organisations had reported increased surveillance and monitoring by local authorities, as well as limitations put on their activities. She stressed that civil society organisations should be able to work freely in Cambodia.

On the deployment of security forces along the border to protect security ahead of Sam Rainsy’s announced date of return on Saturday, Smith urged law enforcement officials to apply non-violent means.

She said Cambodians had the right to “safely enjoy these peaceful cultural celebrations free from fear”.

“I call on the government and all parties to reduce escalations in tensions and seek dialogue in a peaceful environment that allows for diverging political voices to be expressed, and to avoid any further restrictions on fundamental freedoms that are necessary for the enjoyment of human rights by all,” she said.

In response, Siphan said: “The deployment of armed forces along border areas and troop movements are just some of the duties of the government in protecting peace, stability and obedience to the law which no one can interfere with.

“These are not repressive to the freedom of citizens but to protect them. We appeal to all people not to join the coup plot led by Sam Rainsy and his group,” Siphan said.

Rejecting Smith’s appeal for dialogue, Siphan said the government had no reason to seek dialogue with coup plotters as this activity was against the law.

MOST VIEWED

  • Kingdom's Covid cluster cases jump to 194

    The Ministry of Health on February 25 confirmed 65 new cases of Covid-19, with 58 linked to the February 20 community transmission. The latest cluster cases include nine Vietnamese nationals, five Cambodians, one each from Korea, Singapore and Japan, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total number

  • Locations shut, dozens more Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health has closed 23 locations in connection with the February 20 community transmission of Covid-19 and summoned for testing anyone who had direct contact with affected people and places. The number of discovered related infections has risen to 76, including 39 women. In a press release,

  • Cambodia's Covid cluster cases rise to 137

    The Ministry of Health on February 24 recorded 40 more cases of Covid-19, with 38 linked to the February 20 community transmission. Of the 40, two are imported cases involving Chinese passengers. The 38 include two Vietnamese nationals and one Cambodian, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total cases

  • Covid cluster raises alarm, health bodies urge vigilance

    The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia have expressed great concern over the February 20 cluster transmission of Covid-19 in the community. Both entities appealed for vigilance and cooperation in curbing further spread of the virus. Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said

  • PM confirms third Covid-19 community transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on February 20 announced the Kingdom's third outbreak of Covid-19 community transmission after 32 people tested positive in just over 10 hours. Addressing the public from his residence after an emergency meeting, Hun Sen said: "I dub it February 20 Community Event, in which 32 cases

  • Cambodia to make auto-rickshaws

    Locally-assembled electric auto-rickshaws could hit the Cambodian market as soon as early in May after the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) gave the greenlight to an investment project at the weekend. According to a CDC press release, it will issue a final registration