Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambodian ambassador to UN criticises human rights report




Cambodian ambassador to UN criticises human rights report

Ney Sam Ol, Cambodia's ambassador and permanent representative to the UN, reads a critical statement at the Human Rights Council on Thursday. Facebook
Ney Sam Ol, Cambodia's ambassador and permanent representative to the UN, reads a critical statement at the Human Rights Council on Thursday. Facebook

Cambodian ambassador to UN criticises human rights report

Cambodia’s ambassador to the United Nations has attacked a human rights report by the organisation that highlighted the Kingdom’s intensified political friction, including the forced dissolution of its main opposition party and the shrinking of individual freedoms.

The report by the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights, published this week, noted an “escalation in political tensions and curtailment of civic space”, as well as reports of police intimidation of opposition supporters and civil society organisations.

Yesterday, during the 37th Human Rights Council session, Ney Sam Ol, Cambodia’s ambassador and a permanent representative of Cambodia to the UN, said Human Rights High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein failed to recognise “tremendous outcomes in relation to the promotion and protection of human rights in this country”.

“Worse than that, premising on unverified or incredible sources, the High Commissioner insubstantially alleged that some measures taken purely to maintain law and order, to uphold peace, stability and development by legitimate authorities including the necessary amendment of some laws are curtailing freedom of expression and shrinking political space,” he said in a statement posted to Facebook.

Sam Ol said Cambodia was required to enforce the law and that rights were “not absolute”. “[L]et us make no mistake, being human rights defenders, political actors, or journalists do not mean they are immune from prosecution,” he said.

“Is a political rhetoric full of incitement, hatred, discrimination, and call for rebellion against legitimately elected government entitled the right to freedom of opinion and expression? I see not, and so too don’t you.”

The comments came as Cambodia experienced the most severe political crackdown in recent memory, with politicians, human rights defenders, environmentalists and journalists jailed on charges widely described as politically motivated.

The opposition CNRP was forcibly dissolved in November, just months from the July 2018 national election.

In the report's defence, Cambodian Center for Human Right Executive Director Chak Sopheap noted the role of rights groups, including the UN office on human rights, was to highlight areas for improvement and they did so “independently, impartially, and objectively, no matter the party in power”.

“Any legitimate critic of public actions and policies should be seen as they are – an attempt to improve the situation of all Cambodians in the country – rather than being dismissed as having underlying political motives,” she said in an email.

She said the law was indeed designed to be implemented indiscriminately, but too often it was used to target analysts, trade union members and human rights defenders.

“It is deeply regrettable that the right to be treated equally before the law is not consistently respected in Cambodia,” she said.

There was also a “critical lack of accountability” in investigating certain crimes involving authorities, such as violence against peaceful protesters.

“Without a justice which is applied objectively, impartially and fairly, people lose faith in the judicial system and opt out of seeking redress for human rights violations, creating a vicious circle of impunity, itself leading to more human rights violations,” she said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hungarian exposes 90 to Covid in Siem Reap

    The Ministry of Health has discovered 90 people who have been exposed directly or indirectly to a Hungarian man infected with Covid-19. They all are required to quarantine at home and the hospital. The ministry is searching for other affected people. Among the 90, one is the

  • PM warns of ‘new Cold War’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said the possibility of a so-called new Cold War has become a significant concern and that all countries have to reject outright, any attempt to allow history to tragically repeat itself. He made the remarks in a speech during 75th Session

  • PM: West unfair to Cambodia

    Prime Minister Hun Sen released a message celebrating the International Day of Peace on Monday, saying that some major powers and western countries had been systemically cooperating to put political pressure on Cambodia as they did in the 1970s and 1980s. Hun Sen said pressuring

  • ‘Bad news is an investor’s best friend’ – unlocking investment potential in Cambodia

    It is time to shop. Economic woes provide good pickings for investors if they know where to look The poem If, written by English Nobel laureate poet and novelist Rudyard Kipling for his son circa 1895, is widely perceived as fatherly advice for John who would

  • PM requests Russia’s Covid vaccine

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that Russia provide Cambodia with its Covid-19 vaccine after the former announced it planned on mass vaccinating its population next month. The request came on Thursday through the prime minister’s Facebook page as he met with Anatoly Borovik,

  • First ‘mobile kitchen’ in Cambodia enters service

    A catering company recently rolled out Cambodia’s first “mobile kitchen” – a $50,000 container capable of serving up to 200 people at a time. The kitchen is the brainchild of Seng Hok Heng Catering Services. At 4.4m-high, 6.8m-long and 2.4m-wide (expandable to 6.8m), the kitchen is equipped