MICHAEL Kirby, the United Nations Secretary-General's Special Representative on
Human Rights in Cambodia, is due to visit King Norodom Sihanouk
Kirby - in Cambodia for 10 days on his sixth visit - was anxious
that his Royal audience not be seen as an attempt to go over the heads of
Cambodia's democratically-elected leaders.
"I will not be mistaking the
King's role," Kirby said. "As he himself has repeatedly said, the King reigns
but does not rule.
"I would not intrude into what was not his proper
function. [But] his function includes being the guarantor of human rights for
Cambodians under the constitution and to bring his influence to bear in that
Kirby said he intended raising a number of issues with King
Sihanouk, including the draft press law which the King has urged be
He also intended to urge the King to push for a resolution to
the problem of Vietnamese-Khmer refugees trapped on the southern Cambodian
Another issue he wanted to discuss was the need to combat the
spread of HIV/Aids in Cambodia.
"I will be appealing to the King to take
a personal interest in the struggle against HIV/Aids, which has the potential to
explode into an enemy even greater than the Khmer Rouge, a devastation greater
than that caused by Pol Pot."
Kirby, an Australian judge, will meet a
wide variety of government officials and aid agencies on his visit.
was due to visit Second Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday.
Kirby, who in
November presented a 120-page report on the state of human rights in Cambodia to
the United Nations, said part of his visit would be to prepare a "scorecard" on
the government's response.
"[But] I'm not here as a policeman. I'm here
to provide technical assistance and advice. I must be constructive in my
criticism but realistic in what can be expected."
Of the government's
human rights record, he said there were "some disappointments" but he remained
basically optimistic that improvements were being made.