Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Rapporteur report lacks ‘urgency’, observers say

Rapporteur report lacks ‘urgency’, observers say

Ney Sam Ol (center bottom), Ambassador of the Kingdom of Cambodia to the United Nations Office, speaks during the 33rd Session of the Human Rights Council on Wednesday. Photo supplied
Ney Sam Ol (center bottom), Ambassador of the Kingdom of Cambodia to the United Nations Office, speaks during the 33rd Session of the Human Rights Council on Wednesday. Photo supplied

Rapporteur report lacks ‘urgency’, observers say

Right groups and experts yesterday welcomed a report by UN Special Rapporteur Rhona Smith, but criticised it for failing to adequately address the recent jailing of five human rights staffers and the killing of political analyst Kem Ley.

An advance release of the report obtained this week deals with a slew of issues – democratic safeguards, treatment of indigenous people and gender issues – and is set be presented at the UN’s Human Rights Council (HRC) on September 28.

While Smith’s report does touch on criminal cases brought by the government against the leadership of the Cambodia National Rescue Party and “members of civil society”, observers say it does not go far enough to call out the government for these recent events.

“It is this reduction in democratic space and the associated human rights violations that have been the hallmark of the last year and deserve far more emphasis and urgency,” said Rupert Abbott, a human rights consultant.

He added that the report was, in itself, unlikely to galvanise the international community, though a statement put out on Wednesday by almost 40 countries at the HRC showed that there was “some momentum”.

Two months ago, Smith was sharply criticised by rights workers for failing to speak out about rights abuses by the Cambodian government. Yesterday, both Naly Pilorge, deputy director of advocacy at Licadho, and Chak Sopheap, executive director at the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, said that Smith had failed to address the glaring arrest and jailing of human rights activists in the country.

“Most urgently, at a time when at least 27 political prisoners – including human rights defenders – are still languishing in the country’s jails, we are astonished that the special rapporteur did not use this opportunity to call for their immediate and unconditional release,” said Pilorge.

While striking a more positive note on the “overdue, yet refreshingly clear” report, Human Rights Watch’s Phil Robertson said it was now up to “Phnom Penh-based diplomats” and the UN office to get vocal about the government’s use of “kangaroo courts” against its opponents.

In response to the statement released at the HRC on the country’s escalating political tensions, Cambodia’s representative to the UN in Geneva, Ney Sam Ol, said in a statement that some groups were merely manipulating and dramatising the current situation for their political ends. “Political parties or entities should not hide under the human rights’ umbrella to extort or hijack public order, tranquillity and the harmonisation of the society for their ill political gain.”

MOST VIEWED

  • US think tank warns of China's 'ulterior motives'

    A US think tank on Tuesday warned that spreading Chinese investment in the Indo-Pacific follows a pattern of leveraging geopolitical influence at the expense of the nations receiving investment, including Cambodia. The report looks at a sample of 15 Chinese port development projects, noting that the

  • Defence Ministry denies weapons in smuggling case came from Cambodia

    After a Thai national was arrested last week for allegedly smuggling guns from Cambodia to Thailand, Cambodia's Defence Ministry has claimed the weapons seized during the arrest are not used in Cambodia, despite the fact that both types of rifle seized are commonly found in

  • More than three tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia seized in Mozambique

    A total of 3.5 tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia was seized by authorities in Mozambique late last week, according to the NGO Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES' information was based on a report from the

  • Stock photo agencies cash in on Khmer Rouge tragedy
    Stock-photo companies selling images from S-21 raises ethics concerns

    A woman with short-cropped hair stares directly into the camera, her head cocked slightly to the side. On her lap is a sleeping infant just barely in the frame. The woman was the wife of a Khmer Rouge officer who fell out of favour, and