UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Cambodia Rhona Smith on Thursday reiterated that access to the EU’s preferential Everything But Arms trade agreement would not be withdrawn if the situation in the Kingdom improved.
Answering reporters’ questions at a press conference in Phnom Penh, Smith said it was a matter for the Cambodian government to comply with human right standards if the Kingdom wanted to maintain access to EBA.
“My understanding is that the decision of the EU Commission is in part based on the compliance of Cambodia to human rights standards. So, in my opinion, should Cambodia take swift, genuine and substantial efforts to address the concerns of the EU, then in terms of halting [access to] EBA, my understanding is that that decision would not be taken.”
She said the EU was still looking at evidence and “if the situation changed and improved, [EBA] would not be an issue”.
An EU spokesman told The Post last month that the procedure for withdrawing EBA access takes 18 months to fully complete.
Cambodian government spokesman Phay Siphan said the EU and Cambodia are partners, with each side working based on an agreed-upon MoU.
He said the EU could not pressure or threaten Cambodia.
Prime Minister Hun Sen has said that EBA has been used as a psychological weapon to attack the government.
On Wednesday, he told garment factory workers not to worry about the effect of EBA withdrawal on their jobs as it “is not yet lost.”