The Cambodian Human Rights Committee (CHRC) is working with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia (OHCHR) to organise a regional workshop on October 28 to accelerate the establishment of a National Human Rights Institution based on the Paris Principles.

The virtual workshop will serve as a forum to exchange experiences and gather input for the draft law on establishing the national institution. CHRC president Keo Remy and UN Resident Coordinator to Cambodia Pauline Tamesis will preside over the opening ceremony.

According to the CHRC, the video conference will commence at 8am at its headquarters. In attendance will be more than 80 stakeholders, including foreign diplomats, members of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights, and representatives from the National Human Rights Institution of the Philippines.

CHRC spokesman Katta Orn told The Post on October 27 that the regional level workshop would collect input from the draft law to establish a final law on human rights in Cambodia.

“After this workshop, we will hold small consultative meetings with civil society organizations (CSOs), unions, journalists, political parties, stakeholders and with relevant state institutions, the National Assembly, the Senate and the courts as well,” he said.

He said that since July, CHRC has also provided the opportunity for the public to comment on the draft law, which consists of eight chapters and 32 articles, through the CHRC Facebook page and Telegram channel.

Orn said Cambodia decided to establish this national human rights institution in 2006. Some countries also recommended that the Kingdom establish this institution while the CHRC and OHCHR have pushed for it to be established as well.

He said the government has given CSOs 15 years to draft this law, but after all these years a draft law has not materialised. Prime Minister Hun Sen decided to give the task to CHRC on August 4, 2019.

The CHRC has worked with OHCHR and the Asia Pacific Forum based in Australia under the coordination of the Australian embassy in Phnom Penh to draft the law since August 2019.

The first phase of the draft was officially finished in July. CHRC then declared that it would consult at least 60 times, starting from July and would complete the task by the end of this year.

“We have started the consultation process by inviting CSOs for input and given the floor to OHCHR to organise consultations. But a large number of them [CSOs] are still unclear about the purpose. They are still hesitant about human rights, democracy in Cambodia and have not decided to participate yet,” Orn said.

On October 11, the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution to provide technical assistance and capacity-building for Cambodia. The resolution invites the secretary-general, agencies of the UN in Cambodia and the international community, including civil society, to continue to work with and to support the efforts of the government in strengthening democracy and ensuring the protection and promotion of human rights for the people.

They should also respond to the government’s request for assistance in drafting laws and establishing an independent national human rights institution.

The resolution also extended the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Cambodia for another two years, and requested the special rapporteur to report on the implementation of his mandate to the Human Rights Council at its 51st and 54th sessions.