Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambodian mission rebukes UN over 'Adhoc 5' statement

Cambodian mission rebukes UN over 'Adhoc 5' statement

Adhoc officials (from left) Lim Mony, Nay Vanda, Ny Sokha and Yi Soksan (grey hair, facing away) hold a press conference after their release on bail last month.
Adhoc officials (from left) Lim Mony, Nay Vanda, Ny Sokha and Yi Soksan (grey hair, facing away) hold a press conference after their release on bail last month. Yon Sineat

Cambodian mission rebukes UN over 'Adhoc 5' statement

The Permanent Mission of Cambodia to the United Nations warned the UN not to interfere in the Kingdom’s internal affairs after the body’s human rights arm issued a statement welcoming the release of the so-called “Adhoc 5”, according to a statement made public early this morning.

The Adhoc 5 – four current staffers of the rights group, and one former staffer-turned-election official – were released on bail on June 29 after spending more than a year in pre-trial detention in a “bribery” case relating to an opposition sex scandal.

The case is widely seen as political, and in a July 7 statement, UN Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) spokeswoman Elizabeth Throssell said the body welcomed the release, while also expressing concern about a lack of evidence and legal reasoning to justify charges against the five.

In response, the Cambodian mission said in its own statement that it would “take note with appreciation” of the OHCHR’s statement, but “urge[d] the United Nations agents not to prejudice the independent functioning of the judiciary in the application of rule of law; as doing so is tantamount to [an] act of contempt of court”.

Cambodia’s UN Ambassador Ney Samol called Throssell’s statement “an act of contempt” because it was not based on facts.

“Cambodia is not immune to criticism . . . That’s why we allow the OHCHR into the country,” he said. “[But it] is not proper in a legal process, in any country, that someone . . . prejudices or alleges that a court has no legal, or strong legal, background.

“So let the process go on and let the judiciary fulfil their independent task,” he said.

The Cambodian government has locked horns with the OHCHR’s local branch before. The Foreign Ministry had threatened to eject the body from the country if it did not amend its memorandum of understanding with the government to include pointed language regarding noninterference.

Asked about yesterday’s statement, Throssell in an email said the OHCHR had nothing to add to its previous remarks.

The release from the Cambodian mission goes on to argue that “civil societies & NGOs have quite frequently distorted facts, embarked on lie[s], and exacerbated or dramatized some remote cases in order to undermine the legitimacy of [the] state’s institution including the judiciary”.

But Cambodian Center for Human Rights Executive Director Chak Sopheap in an email dismissed the permanent mission’s argument. “States cannot hide behind the well-worn excuse of ‘domestic affairs’ to evade scrutiny of their actions, and state sovereignty is never a justification for violations of human rights,” she said.

Sopheap pointed out that the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention declared in November that the detention of the Adhoc 5 was “arbitrary” and that the detainees’ human rights had been violated.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen: Stop Russia sanctions

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said sanctions against Russia as a result of its military offensive in Ukraine should be stopped as they have produced no tangible results, and predicted that a global food crisis would ensue in 2023 as a consequence. Speaking to an audience at

  • Chinese tourists 2.0 – Coming anytime soon?

    Regional tourism is grappling with the absence of the prolific travellers and big spenders – the Chinese tourists. Cambodia, which has welcomed over two million Chinese tourists before Covid-19, is reeling from the economic loss despite being the first to fully open last November ‘To put

  • PM reflects on shoe throwing: Free speech or act of violence?

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on May 17 questioned whether a man who threw a shoe at him while he was in the US was exercising freedom of expression or if it was an act of hostility. Hun Sen was referring to an incident last week when

  • Siem Reap’s Angkor Botanical Garden opens

    The Angkor Botanical Garden was officially opened on May 19 with free entry for both local and international visitors for the first six weeks. The garden was established on a nearly 15ha plot of land in Siem Reap. “After the first six weeks, Angkor Botanical Garden

  • Pub Street on the cards for Battambang

    The Battambang Provincial Authority has announced that it is considering establishing a Pub Street in the area around the heritage buildings in Battambang town in a bid to attract more tourists. Battambang provincial governor Sok Lou told The Post that the establishment of a Pub

  • Hun Sen: Don’t react to hostility

    Prime Minister Hun Sen urged tolerance and thanked members of the Cambodian diaspora for not reacting to the hostility on display towards him by others while he was in the US to attend the May 12-13 ASEAN-US Special Summit in Washington, DC. In an audio