GOVERNMENT officials said Wednesday that they welcomed the positive remarks from Surya Subedi, the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights in Cambodia, during his second mission to the Kingdom, though Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith warned that Subedi must submit his report on the local rights situation to the government before finalising it.
Though Khieu Kanharith said Subedi’s mission has gone well thus far, he added that a failure by the Nepali law professor to consult with the government over his final report would violate the memorandum of understanding that established his position.
“Before he does the report, the important thing he has to do is meet with the government to discuss the report,” Khieu Kanharith said, adding that previous UN rapporteurs never consulted the government in crafting their reports.
“Now we wait and see whether [Subedi’s] work changes or not” compared with previous rights envoys, Khieu Kanharith said.
In a press conference on Tuesday, Subedi said he had observed “progress made by Cambodia in a number of areas” since his visit last June, praising government officials for their engagement with him and avoiding any direct criticisms. Key improvements, Subedi said, included the strengthening of a legal framework to manage land evictions and relocations, the completion of the first case at the Khmer Rouge tribunal and the adoption of the Kingdom’s new Penal Code.
Some, however, warned that Subedi must not be constrained by a desire to please the government as he carries out his duties.
“We want him to write the truth that he found … and offer recommendations in order to help the Cambodian people live peacefully … and enjoy human rights, democracy and an independent legal system,” said Kek Pung, president of local rights group Licadho.