Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Rapporteur holds series of meetings

Rapporteur holds series of meetings

UN Special Rapporteur Rhona Smith speaks with reporters yesterday after leaving a meeting at the Ministry of Justice.
UN Special Rapporteur Rhona Smith speaks with reporters yesterday after leaving a meeting at the Ministry of Justice. Hong Menea

Rapporteur holds series of meetings

UN Special Rapporteur to Cambodia Rhona Smith launched her third fact-finding mission yesterday, meeting with four government agencies and addressing concerns over curbs on the freedom of expression, peaceful demonstrations and rising pre-trial detention rates.

The high-stakes visit comes amid growing concerns of increasing strictures on human and civil rights and escalating political tensions, and after local and international rights groups criticised her for her perceived inaction.

Yesterday, the special rapporteur met with Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana, Cambodian Human Rights Committee (CHRC) head Keo Remy, Phnom Penh governor Pa Socheatvong and Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron.

Smith said she had informed Socheatvong of her concern over Monday’s attack on a human rights monitor by Daun Penh district security guards during a march marking World Habitat Day.

“We did express regret at the resulting violence, and he explained some of the background from his perspective,” she told reporters as she left City Hall.

Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Cambodia Rhona Smith shakes hands with Minister of Justice Ang Vong Vathana during a meeting yesterday in Phnom Penh.
Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Cambodia Rhona Smith shakes hands with Minister of Justice Ang Vong Vathana during a meeting yesterday in Phnom Penh. Hong Menea

At the meeting with the CHRC – which is a government body – Remy said the victims of the attack had the right to legal recourse, but also questioned the timing of the march and subsequent violence.

“Why did nothing happen before she arrived? The march and violent brawl happened only after she arrived in Cambodia,” Remy said.

Earlier in the day, Smith held a 90-minute meeting with Vong Vathana touching on a range of issues – reducing pre-trial detention, alternatives to prison sentences and the recent slew of legal cases against the opposition and land rights activists.

“We discussed the wide range of cases and the need to strengthen the evidentiary rules, and that [procedures] are carried out fairly,” she said.

Ministry spokesman Chin Malin, however, maintained the discussion stayed away from the current political situation and focused on technical strengthening of the ministry and courts.

MOST VIEWED

  • Proof giants walked among us humans?

    For years a debate has waged about whether certain bas relief carvings at the 12th-century To Prohm Temple, one of the most popular attractions at the Angkor Wat Temple Complex in Siem Reap province, depicted dinosaurs or some rather less exotic and more contemporary animal,

  • Japan bank buys major stake in ANZ Royal Bank

    Japan's largest bank acquired more than half of ANZ’s shares in Cambodia on Thursday, according to a statement from Kith Meng’s Royal Group. Japan's JTrust Bank, announced that they had acquired a 55% of stake in ANZ Royal Bank. According to a Royal Group

  • Long way to go before Cambodia gets a ‘smart city’

    Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang will struggle to attain smart city status without adopting far reaching master plans, according to officials tasked with implementing the program. The brainchild of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), the smart city program seeks to link up

  • New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

    After a US congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation that will enact sanctions on Cambodian officials responsible for “undermining democracy” in the Kingdom, government officials and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Sunday said they regarded the potential action as the “violation of independence and sovereignty