Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - UN expert holds first meet with Sar Kheng

UN expert holds first meet with Sar Kheng

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Minister of Interior Sar Kheng (left) and Professor Vitit Muntarbhorn held their first talk on June 24 during which both sides discussed the general Covid-19 situation in Cambodia. SAR KHENG FACEBOOK

UN expert holds first meet with Sar Kheng

Minister of Interior Sar Kheng expressed hope that the newly appointed UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia, Professor Vitit Muntarbhorn, will work closely with the government in fulfilling his mandate.

Muntarbhorn was appointed as the UN special rapporteur in March 2021 to replace Rhona Smith.

Sar Kheng and Muntarbhorn held their first talk on June 24 during which both sides discussed the general Covid-19 situation in Cambodia.

“At the start, Sar Kheng welcomed and applauded Muntarbhorn’s appointment as the UN special rapporteur. He hoped that – based on his experiences and knowledge – [Muntarbhorn] will make positive contributions and cooperate well with the government and interior ministry.

“[This is] to ease his mandate fulfilment as the special rapporteur as well as Cambodia’s fulfilment of its international duties on human rights effectively,” Sar Kheng said in his Facebook post.

Muntarbhorn told Sar Kheng that he had been to Cambodia many times as a researcher and hoped that as special rapporteur he could hold frank talks with the government and relevant stakeholders in order to solve common concerns in a constructive way.

Muntarbhorn brought up specific topics of concern for discussion with Sar Kheng, including Cambodia’s crowded prisons and detention centres, achieving more open space for democracy and civil society, the amendment on the Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organisations (LANGO), and the government’s post-pandemic emergency responses.

With regards to the measures the government put in place in response to the pandemic, Sar Kheng said the government had shown an abundance of caution by introducing preventive measures ranging from raising public awareness to lockdowns to vaccination campaigns. The government had also introduced social assistance programmes for people affected by Covid-19.

Regarding concerns about overcrowding at prisons, Sar Kheng said the ministry is making an effort to expand prison facilities to address the issue, especially given the context of Covid-19.

“The interior ministry is currently applying some other measures to ease conditions such as working with the Ministry of Justice on the possibility of early release or release on bail for detainees who have committed less-serious crimes or those who have almost served their entire sentences for lesser crimes, placing them under court supervised release,” Sar Kheng said.

He said the ministry had cooperated with the Ministry of Health to respond to any Covid-19 cases in the prisons by separating detainees, undergoing rapid testing and vaccinating prisoners with the AstraZeneca vaccines, marketed as CoviShield.

Responding to Muntarbhorn’s concerns about LANGO, Sar Kheng said the government sees NGOs as partners and encourages them and their representatives to continue working together with the government on an amendment request.

Muntarbhorn said he took note of what Sar Kheng told him as being valuable information on these topics and regarded what they discussed as the basis for future considerations regarding these matters.

Also on June 24, Muntarbhorn met via video conference with Cambodian Human Rights Committee (CHRC) president Keo Remy to discuss similar topics.

“Both sides expressed their commitment to continue this cooperation and dialogue on human rights. CHRC president Keo Remy requested that the special rapporteur write a report for the CHRC and give his recommendations in a balanced manner that reflects the challenges and efforts of the government within the Cambodian context,” CHRC said in a press statement.


  • No more Africa travel ban but new rules for arrivals

    The Ministry of Health has decided to lift the ban on travellers from or who have travelled through 10 African countries and instead issued a set of standard operating procedures to manage passenger arrivals at Cambodia’s international airports. The 10 African countries are Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho,

  • Prince Norodom Ranariddh passes away at 77

    Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the second son of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk and former First Prime Minister of Cambodia, has passed away in France at the age of 77. “Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh has passed away this morning in France just after 9am Paris-time,”

  • Cambodia purchases 4 million Molnupiravir tablets

    Cambodia has arranged for the purchase of four million US-made Molnupiravir pills – enough to treat 100,000 Covid-19 patients – even though the current rate of daily infections in Cambodia remains low. The medicine will be distributed to state hospitals, pharmacies and private clinics, according to the Samdech

  • Rise in planned flights lifts travel hopes

    Six airlines have applied to resume flights in December, while two others have put in for additional flights and routes, according to State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) head Mao Havannall on November 29. These account for 43 new weekly domestic and international flights in December, up 16

  • Is Cambodia’s travel sector in for another cheerless holiday season?

    The travel and tourism sector was heaving back to life as borders started to reopen, promising a festive vibe for the holidays and New Year. But Omicron and other Covid-related issues are threatening to close the year on a bleak note ‘Seems [like] Covid-19 won’

  • PM blasts Vietnam general over Covid claims

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on December 6 expressed dismay after Vietnamese general Hoang Xuan Chien, formerly in charge of Vietnam’s border defences, claimed that Cambodia was a source of Covid-19 transmissions to the country. Speaking at the opening ceremony for National Road 11 connecting Prey Veng