In the wrap-up session of the third cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) for Cambodia in Geneva, Switzerland, on Friday, 73 countries made a total of 176 recommendations to improve Cambodia’s human rights record.
However, officials from the Kingdom said politically-motivated recommendations were unlikely to be considered.
Farukh Amil, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Permanent Representative of Pakistan to The UN Office at Geneva wrapped up the session on behalf of the troika – Pakistan, Senegal, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
He said Cambodia is required to respond no later than at the 41st session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) which is scheduled to convene in June and July. Delegations of all countries have until mid-February to request a modification to recommendations made for them.
Ney Samol, the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Cambodia to The UN Office in Geneva said the Kingdom would seriously consider the 176 recommendations.
“We will take appropriate measures based on our ways, means and our available resources to respond and address those concerns in order to better promote, protect, and respect the rights of Cambodian citizens that have been tremendously improved during the past years, of which we are proud,” he said at the wrap-up session.
Cambodia Human Rights Committee (CHRC) spokesman Chin Malin said on Sunday that initially, there were 202 recommendations received, but after compilation, this was reduced to only 176 as some of them overlapped.
Speaking at the Phnom Penh International Airport upon his return, CHRC head, Keo Remy, who led the delegation to the UPR on Friday, said: “I said we were successful because ‘we joined together to defend the face of the nation at the UN, not to disgrace Cambodia’."
“We were determined ahead of the meeting [to do well] and we made it,” he said.
Remy said the UPR was a golden opportunity for Cambodia to show the international community that democracy, human rights and economic development had improved and to educate them about Cambodia.
“We calculated how many countries said we are black and how many said we are white and supported us. The majority supported us, applauded us and the government."
“The majority of the countries recommended that we must continue [our success]. They support and accept that we are making progress and lowering poverty levels,” he said.
However, Remy said there were a small number of countries that still held to their negative views about Cambodia.
“Some countries in Europe and America raised the same things – politics and democracy. But when we clarified the issues, our colleagues noted that they were red-faced like live coals."
“This is because they hurt when we hit back at them, making them numb-faced in the middle of the meeting of the UNHRC,” Remy said, adding that every country had human rights issues.
Malin said all recommendations would be reviewed with relevant stakeholders to identify those that did not reflect the realities in Cambodia or which went against Cambodia’s laws before responding formally to the UNHRC in July.
He said all the recommendations given had covered a broad range of sectors, including economic, social, cultural and civil and political rights. Cambodia would accept many of them, but some were likely to be ignored.
“Some recommendations which are politically motivated, with a political agenda and not in line with national or international laws – especially Cambodian laws – and affect independent court procedures, interfere with Cambodian democracy and rule of law . . . we will not accept them because it is illegal to do so,” he said.
Meanwhile, NGO Cooperation Committee for Cambodia head Soeung Saroeun expressed hope that the recommendations will reflect the real situation in Cambodia.
“I trust that the government will not just express its commitment but take proper action [to address the recommendations],” he said.