The government has dismissed a recent UN human rights report as biased, saying it did not truly reflect the human rights landscape in Cambodia.
The government’s main contention was the UN’s “reliance” on information from civil society organisations (CSO) in preparing their report.
The rejection followed an August 1 meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, with delegates from various relevant ministries and institutions in attendance.
The group reviewed and gave feedback on the draft report titled “Roles and Achievements of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Assisting the Cambodian Government and People in Improving and Protecting Human Rights”.
Chin Malin, secretary of state of the Ministry of Justice, said the aim of the meeting was to evaluate, make recommendations and respond to the UN report.
The objective was to ensure balanced information and protect the reputation of the government.
He pointed out that while the UN report acknowledged some of the government’s efforts, it also emphasised many negative aspects.
This, he believed, was due to the report’s sourcing information from CSOs, causing it to deviate from the actual human rights situation in Cambodia.
“Our response was to demonstrate the effort of the government, the progress of the human right situations and challenges we need to address. We had also interpreted some matters that were different from the facts. They tended to conclude that legal action against political activities had violated human rights, but this was purely law enforcement,” he said.
Am Sam Ath, deputy director of rights group LICADHO, noted that the government’s denial of the UN report and others that cast them in a negative light is not a new phenomenon.
“I believe that the UN human rights experts did more than simply trust the reports from CSOs. The UN has the OHCHR presence in Cambodia and its own human rights experts, who carried out extensive research before releasing the report,” he said.
Ath encouraged the government to thoroughly review the UN report and accept recommendations to improve and uphold the human rights situation in Cambodia.
However, Malin said government officials would respond to the UN report based on Cambodian and international law.
“Our focus is on comparing the UN report with the real facts, allowing readers to consider and assess the report against these realities. We, the Cambodian government, don’t anticipate the UN Human Rights Council making changes to the report’s content,” he said.