Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Gov’t rejects scathing report



Gov’t rejects scathing report

US President Donald Trump delivers his first address to a joint session of Congress from the floor of the House of Representatives last week in Washington. Jim Lo Scalzo/AFP
US President Donald Trump delivers his first address to a joint session of Congress from the floor of the House of Representatives last week in Washington. Jim Lo Scalzo/AFP

Gov’t rejects scathing report

The US State Department released its annual global human rights report on Friday, highlighting alleged rights abuses in Cambodia and prompting a government spokesman to dub the report an “attack”.

“Corruption was endemic throughout all segments of society and branches of government. There were reports police, prosecutors, investigating judges, and presiding judges received bribes,” the report reads, asserting that the judiciary was particularly subject to corruption and political influence.

The report also alleges that the government occasionally engaged in “arbitrary arrest and detention” and that police officials “committed abuses with impunity”, while a section on torture describes “credible reports military and police officials used physical and psychological abuse, and, on occasion, severely beat criminal detainees, particularly during interrogation”.

In response, Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan took to Facebook to slam the report as a “misinterpretation” of the reality in Cambodia, once again invoking US President Donald Trump’s own perceived shortcomings on the human rights front.

Claiming that widespread protests against Trump were an indicator of “injustice in American society and racism”, Siphan questioned the US’s own commitment to “human rights principles”.

Siphan said the report was an attack on Cambodia’s national sovereignty, a move he claimed violated Trump’s own promises. During his Congressional address on February 28, Trump said: “America respects the right of all nations to chart their own path. My job is not to represent the world.”

US Embassy spokesman Jay Raman yesterday wanted to let the report speak for itself, saying only that it was “compiled yearly, at the direction of Congress, and that it is global in scope”.

Ministry of Justice spokesman Chin Malin said the report was biased. “Some reports by NGOs support the Western world because they receive funds from them. Those reports do not reflect the real situation in Cambodia,” Malin said.

In the past week, three different CPP officials have referred to Trump while justifying positions that have been criticised as violating human rights.

“There seems to be an organized attempt by officials of the Hun Sen government to legitimize repression and human rights violations in Cambodia while rejecting US criticisms of Cambodian authoritarianism by referencing President Donald Trump as soft on these issues himself,” Dr Paul Chambers of the Institute of South East Asian Affairs said via email.

Chambers warned that America’s position as a global leader could be weakened by this perception, but also said the CPP’s recent public rebukes of the US could simply be pre-election posturing in an attempt to paint the party as “a nationalist protector”.

Despite himself referencing Trump twice in the past week, Siphan said that invoking Trump was not an official party strategy.

“The way I see it, we have to respect each other. Every nation has its own culture, which is why US foreign policy is so arrogant,” he told The Post.

Siphan, who holds dual Cambodian-US citizenship, then moved to disassociate America’s human rights issues from Trump specifically, saying the US has always had a problem with racism.

“Not even the US is perfect ... but they accuse Cambodia of not having human rights,” he added.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY MECH DARA

MOST VIEWED

  • Would you like fries with that? US burger chain makes Phnom Penh debut

    California-based The Habit Burger Grill restaurant chain is all set to serve up a delicious array of charbroiled burgers and sides at its newest international location in the centre of Phnom Penh. The Habit is “renowned for its award-winning Charburgers grilled over an open flame,

  • Banteay Meanchey flood victims receive aid

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday provided aid to more than 10,000 families affected by flooding in Banteay Meanchey province’s Mongkol Borei district and offered his condolences to the 18 victims who drowned in the province over the past week. He said flooding had occured in

  • Angkor provides ‘valuable’ water storage

    The Apsara National Authority (ANA) has stored millions of cubic metres of water at reservoirs in the Angkor area after Cambodia experienced a series of rainstorms over the last few days. The storing of the water, besides serving temple conservation, will also be used to

  • PM urges caution as Polish man tests positive for Covid

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday reported that a 47-year-old Polish man tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving in Cambodia on Monday. There are a total of six Covid-19 patients currently in the country, all of whom are being treated at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital

  • Banteay Meanchey floods kill one more as death toll reaches 15

    As floodwaters start to recede in Pursat, Battambang and Pailin provinces and Phnom Penh, Banteay Meanchey continues to bear the brunt as one more person was killed on Monday, bringing the total number of flood-related deaths to 15 in the province this month. Banteay Meanchey provincial

  • Serving coffee with a side of robots

    The eye-catching glass building surrounded by greenery at the intersection of Streets 371 and 2002 in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district is more than just another coffee shop where you can while away a few hours. UrHobby House cafe is filled with robots and characters from