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

  • Serious flooding across country

    The Kampong Speu provincial Committee for Disaster Management on Wednesday issued an alert after non-stop heavy rain caused widespread flooding. In Koh Kong province, authorities are working with the disaster committee and the Cambodian Red Cross to assist those affected after more than 350 homes were

  • CNRP points to King in call for vote boycott

    Leaders of the former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) have taken a new tack in their call for a boycott of the national elections later this month. They are now claiming that the people should follow the King, who is expected to abide by tradition

  • Malaysian MP calls on his government to take stand on Cambodian elections

    A Malaysian parliamentarian raised concerns in his country on Wednesday about Cambodia’s July 29 national elections and urged his government to clarify its position on the subject, the Asean Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) said on Thursday. Wong Chen, a member of the People’s

  • Troop moves ‘won’t worry people’

    Senior officials at the Ministry of Defence and National Police said on Tuesday that riot training provided to the country’s police forces were aimed at preventing unexpected demonstrations and strikes before and after the July 29 national elections. The troop mobilisation, they said, would not