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Official blasts UN over report

Official blasts UN over report

A SENIOR government official lashed out Tuesday at the recommendations released by a UN human rights body, claiming they are part of a pattern of bias against the Cambodian government.

"I think it is usual for UN human rights bodies to blast the ruling party and look on the government as its enemy," said Cheam Yeap, a senior CPP lawmaker.

"As a lawmaker, I want to see the checks and balances of the UN before they criticise the [Cambodian] government."

He added that the government was working to improve human rights in the country and that the Kingdom's leaders were better placed to judge the needs of Cambodians.

"We are trying to improve the living conditions of the Cambodian people," Cheam Yeap said. "I don't think that the UN loves the Khmer people more than Khmers love the Khmers."

In its concluding observations to Cambodia's May 11-12 review in Geneva, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights criticised the government for its lack of action on issues including land rights, gender equality, conservation, unemployment and labour rights.

Prominent among the committee's 24 recommendations was a call for a moratorium on land evictions "until the proper legal framework is in place and the process of land titling is completed".

It also slammed the government for its apparent refusal to send a delegation to the review, which itself came 15 years late because of the government's delay in filing its initial report to the committee.

"The Committee regrets the absence of experts from the State party and that the information provided was in some cases not sufficiently detailed," the report said.

Rights groups said the committee's report was an accurate snapshot of the situation in Cambodia. "The Committee has picked up on the most salient issues with regard to the state of economic, social and cultural rights in Cambodia," said David Pred, country director of rights group Bridges Across Borders.

He also expressed hope the government would respond by bringing the country into compliance with its obligations.

"This is what the ambassador promised in Geneva that the government would do, but now it is up to the central government in Phnom Penh to translate his words into action," he said.

Thun Saray, president of Cambodian rights group Adhoc, said that the committee had been "quite balanced" in its reporting, noting areas of improvement in Cambodia, and said the government should take the recommendations seriously.

Sam Rainsy Party spokesman Yim Sovann also supported the committee's efforts, adding that the CPP's "top to bottom" control of the government meant human rights issues were ignored. "They pretend to take care of [these issues] but in reality it is not the case," he said.

"So now the international community has to try."

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