Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Hun Sen claims glowing review by UN



Hun Sen claims glowing review by UN

Prime Minister Hun Sen poses with UN Resident Coordinator Claire Van der Vaeren during their annual meeting yesterday. Facebook
Prime Minister Hun Sen poses with UN Resident Coordinator Claire Van der Vaeren during their annual meeting yesterday. Facebook

Hun Sen claims glowing review by UN

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday claimed that Cambodia received an exceedingly positive review during a yearly assessment with United Nations representatives, even as the UN published a statement slamming recent legal amendments.

Hun Sen took to Facebook after the roughly six-hour meeting to declare that UN Resident Representative Claire Van der Vaeren praised his government, with both parties “highly evaluating” the other.

“Claire Van der Vaeren thanks the Cambodian government for its continued participation in the mission under the UN’s umbrella,” reads the post, adding that the UN representative also lauded the government’s “deep reforms”.

“She informed Prime Minister Hun Sen that the UN will continue to support Cambodia and enhance the partnership with Cambodia,” the premier’s statement continued.

Hun Sen’s government has come under heavy fire from the international community recently for a political crackdown that some have equated to the dismantling of democracy.

In September, the president of the country’s only viable opposition party was arrested on widely decried charges of “treason”, with his party summarily dissolved two months later. Meanwhile, NGOs have found themselves under heightened government scrutiny, and numerous independent media outlets have been shuttered.

Hun Sen claimed Van der Vaeren particularly praised Cambodia’s progress in human resources development, the environment, agriculture and demining.

The premier’s spokesman, Eang Sophalleth, echoed his statements in an interview, saying Van der Vaeren “congratulated” the Cambodian government for its reforms in education, health and social welfare.“She said it is a strong base for developing our country,” he added.

Sophalleth maintained Van der Vaeren did not express any concern about the political situation.

Van der Vaeren and representatives of the UN Development Programme did not respond to requests for comment yesterday.

But despite Hun Sen’s rosy assessment, the UN in Geneva yesterday released a statement condemning recent controversial amendments to the country’s Constitution and Criminal Code passed last week by the National Assembly. The constitutional amendments place new restrictions on certain political rights, and Criminal Code amendments included a lèse majesté law criminalising insults to the King.

The laws “would impose far-reaching limits on democracy” and “raise serious risk of violating human rights law”, according to the UN statement.

In the statement, Rhona Smith, special rapporteur on human rights in Cambodia, is jointly quoted with David Kaye, special rapporteur for free speech, as saying, “Lese majeste provisions are incompatible with Cambodia’s obligations under international human rights law.”

The statement also criticised the “broad terminology” of the constitutional amendments, which contain vague requirements, such as demanding that political parties “uphold the national interest”.

The special rapporteurs called for a “rigorous” reassessment that includes public consultation.

“Ms Smith has communicated her views in detail to the Cambodian government,” the release added.

The amendments will go before the Senate today, where the ruling party has more than enough representatives to pass them.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan yesterday questioned the validity of international law.

Claiming the lèse majesté law was “compatible” with similar laws in Thailand – which have themselves been frequently criticised – Siphan said Cambodia has “the right” to regulate speech.

“Cambodia believes in the King,” he said.

When asked about the vagueness of the other amendments, Siphan gave a correspondingly vague answer.

“According to the principle of the Constitution, we are independent,” he said.

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,

  • Phnom Penh underpass opens to ease traffic

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced a temporary opening of the 488m underpass at the Chaom Chao roundabout in Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district, which was recently completed to connect traffic from National Road 4 to Russian Federation Blvd. The move is to reduce

  • 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

  • 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

  • ‘No chance Cambodia booted out of ASEAN’

    A group of former and current Cambodian diplomats on Tuesday fired back at retired Singaporean diplomat Bihalari Kausikan after he proposed that ASEAN dismiss Cambodia and Laos from the bloc. In an open letter, the Cambodian diplomats said Kausikan’s remarks were made from a

  • Show evidence of Chinese military base, critics told

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday said he had had enough of certain countries and opposition groups claiming Cambodia had allowed China to base its military in Cambodia and dared critics to show clear evidence. Hun Sen made the remarks while presiding over a groudbreaking