Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Kingdom’s UN rep refutes criticisms

Kingdom’s UN rep refutes criticisms

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Cambodian Ambassador to the United Nations Ney Sam Ol (front centre) speaks during the 33rd Session of the Human Rights Council in September last year. Photo supplied

Kingdom’s UN rep refutes criticisms

Cambodia's representative to the United Nations on Thursday refuted recent UN criticism of the Kingdom’s human rights situation, arguing that human rights concerns were simply a pretext to “stir instability”.

“One should not hide behind the human rights shade to stir instability for one’s own ill agenda”, said delegate Ney Sam Ol, arguing that freedom of expression is not absolute. “Human rights issues often become a tool for vilifying the government’s reputation.”

Last Wednesday, special rapporteur Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein criticised Cambodia by pointing to “arbitrary” pre-trial detentions and a biased court system.

Reached yesterday, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) country representative Wan-Hea Lee rejected the claim of having an “ill agenda”.

“Our only ‘agenda’ is to see respect and protection of human rights improve in Cambodia and around the world,” she said.

While some restrictions on freedom of expression were permissible, “they cannot be unlimited or arbitrary” and needed to abide by the law.

“The best way for a country to ensure it maintains a good reputation in human rights is to respect them,” she said.

Political analyst Ou Virak, meanwhile, said concerns should not be brushed away by “blaming the messenger”, but instead be debated in substance. “As a politician, you’re bound to be disliked by many people,” he said. “If you can’t embrace it, perhaps it’s not the right occupation for you.”

Though top politicians might may even agree “deep down” with human rights ideals, he added, “they just don’t want to lose the privilege that they have been enjoying for so long”.

But he also expressed frustration with human rights defenders. “They tend to think that everything that they believe is fundamental, and therefore there is no room for debate.”

Human Rights Watch Deputy Asia Director Phil Robertson said in an email that Prime Minister Hun Sen and the government had “over 30 years of experience in perfecting their model of intimidation, abusive laws enforced by crooked courts, political violence, and impunity that produces a constant litany of human rights violations”.

He added that the prime minister and the government “don’t have [a] substantive reply to the accusations brought against them”.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CHHAY CHANNYDA

MOST VIEWED

  • Siem Reap drain canal now ‘mangrove’ promenade

    A more than half a kilometre long stretch of canal in Siem Reap has been covered and turned into a promenade to attract visitors, said Ly Rasmey, secretary of state at the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, on September 16. The new pedestrianised

  • Angkor wildlife, aquarium park still to open October

    The Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium complex about 30km southeast of Siem Reap town with initial total investment of more than $70 million is reportedly still on track for an end-October opening. The park is located on a 100ha plot along National Road 6 in Kbon village, Khchas

  • Final verdicts for Khmer Rouge leaders ‘vital’ for next generation

    Nearly a decade after the commencement of Case 002/02 against Khieu Samphan back in 2014, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) is now set to deliver its final verdict for the former Khmer Rouge head of state. The Supreme Court Chamber of the ECCC,

  • Defence minister reaffirms Kingdom’s staunch support for One-China policy

    Minister of National Defence General Tea Banh has reaffirmed Cambodia’s unwavering support for the One-China policy. Tea Banh was speaking at the September 20 ceremonial handover of 117 vehicles and other military equipment donated by China’s defence ministry, held at Phnom Chumreay International Military Training

  • Deaths due to ‘lifestyle’ diseases rise in Kingdom

    The Ministry of Health has called on people to pay closer attention to their health to protect themselves from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) which it said have caused high rates of deaths in the country. Ministry secretary of state York Sambath made the call at a

  • Textile industry minimum wage now $200

    The official minimum wage for workers in textile-related sectors including garment, footwear, and travel goods for 2023 was pegged at $198, with Prime Minister Hun Sen stepping in to add $2 to the total, making it $200 per month. The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training made the announcement