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Government fires back at the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur to Cambodia

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Rhona Smith, UN special rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights in Cambodia, speaks during a press conference in Phnom Penh on September 24, 2015. TANG CHHIN SOTHY/afp

Government fires back at the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur to Cambodia

The Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has expressed dismay over the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur to Cambodia Rhona Smith’s comments on the forthcoming general elections. It questioned the timing and motive of her remarks.

Smith’s remarks appeared on the Facebook page of the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Cambodia on Friday.

She mentions government officials saying that abstaining from voting was illegal and those spreading messages about boycotting the national elections on July 29 will be fined.

“Unlike some countries, Cambodia does not have any law punishing the people who do not cast their vote. However, Cambodia’s election law penalises those who prevent others from going to vote as set forth in its Article 142,” it said.

The Foreign Ministry statement was issued on July 23 and made available on the same day.

“It appears that her call is supportive to a coordinated campaign of Sam Rainsy and members of the legally-dissolved party CNRP (Cambodia National Rescue Party), which seeks to sabotage a democratic contest in Cambodia by encouraging the electoral boycott among voters and teaching them how to spoil ballots on the voting day,” the statement reads.

Cambodians will cast their votes for some 20 parties that are vying for 125 parliamentary seats.

“The Special Rapporteur seems to lose sight of the dangerous populism of Sam Rainsy and his squad, who call on military rebellion against the government, instigate anti-China sentiment, incite racial hatred and xenophobia, and prove ultra-nationalism jeopardising peaceful relations with one of Cambodia’s neighbours.

“Such methods do not bear a semblance to democracy and are well condemned in any democratic society."

“The ministry notes with deep regret that the Special Rapporteur has never ever publically deplored the above undemocratic conducts,” said the statement.

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