Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Rhona​ Smith wraps up Kingdom rights trip

Rhona​ Smith wraps up Kingdom rights trip

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Rhona Smith, the UN Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Cambodia held a press conference yesterday. Heng Chivoan

Rhona​ Smith wraps up Kingdom rights trip

Rhona Smith, the UN Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Cambodia completed her seventh mission to the Kingdom on Thursday after meeting ministers and senior government officials to discuss human rights and sustainable development in the Kingdom.

Smith issued a statement on the conclusion of her over 11-day visit saying that as well as meeting with the government, she also met with other relevant parties including members of the public, representatives of civil society, the diplomatic community and UN teams in Cambodia.

“I have now completed my seventh mission in my capacity as UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia. I would like to thank the government for its invitation to visit and the willingness of so many state officials to meet many state officials to meet with me."

“I have been particularly attentive to the general narrative on human rights and human rights advocacy. In that respect, I regret that working and advocating for the promotion and protection of human rights continues to be equated with supporting, the political opposition,” Smith said.

She said she remained concerned that pressure on former members of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party appears to continue unabated.

“In all countries, human rights issues may be politically sensitive, and political and civil rights are by essence related to the political space. In the same spirit, I reiterate my encouragement to the government, in particular at the sub-national level, to strengthen respect for the freedom to peaceful assembly,” she said.

She acknowledged that gatherings pertaining to land disputes, in particular communities locked in them coming to the capital to petition the relevant authorities, were allowed to take place.

But she also noted that permission for recent marches on Human Rights Day were refused on grounds of potential disruption to traffic.

“I recall that the Implementation Guide to the Law on Peaceful Demonstration indicates that disruption to traffic is not normally a ground to refuse a request to march,” she said.

Smith also welcomed last November’s royal pardons that saw the release of opposition figures.

“I note the amendment passed to the Law on Political Parties last December, allowing for individuals previously banned from political activities by the Supreme Court to request the restoration of their rights by the King as per a request from the Prime Minister,” she said.

She also noted that nine of the 118 people who had been banned had used such provisions under the amended law and received rehabilitation.

Ministry of Justice spokesperson Kim Santepheap said all action taken by the courts was purely the enforcement of the law against politicians who had committed crimes.

“Can Cambodia be a country that upholds the rule of law without impunity if the courts acquit politicians who commit crimes but not ordinary citizens who do the same?"

“I have only this answer – Don’t allow the courts to be taken hostage by politicians. The courts enforce the law against those who commit crimes. Every person who breaks the law falls equally under the jurisdiction of the courts.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Website advises travellers to stay clear of Angkor Wat

    An Australian website has advised travellers to avoid Angkor Wat during their trip to Southeast Asia because the ancient temple is showing signs of rapid erosion and faced water management issues. In a recent article entitled Best places to go in 2020: 12 destinations you should avoid

  • Chinese firms to build new PP airport

    Three enterprises, all Chinese-owned, have been chosen to build the new airport that will service the Cambodian capital, the company in charge of the project said. Cambodia Airport Investment Co Ltd said a total of five companies had entered the bidding process. Yee Con Long,

  • Passenger taxi boat ridership sinks despite free services

    Passenger taxi boat traffic has dropped by about five per cent compared to the same period last year, despite the government providing free service for garment workers until next year, Phnom Penh Autonomous Bus Transportation Authority director Ean Sokhim said on Monday. In 2018, the Phnom

  • Shipments of mango to South Korea poised to begin this week

    Exports of Cambodian mangoes to South Korea will begin this week after Korean authorities gave the nod. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries’ Department of Plant Protection, Sanitary and Phytosanitary Requirements director Ker Monthivuth told The Post on Sunday that after several inspections of

  • Kingdom drafting new law to strengthen immigration

    The Ministry of Interior on Tuesday said it had formed a working group to draft amendments to the Law on Immigration. Its secretary of state Sok Phal told The Post that the amendments will strengthen the management of immigrants in line with the current situation.

  • First deportees of the year touch down in Cambodia

    Twenty-five Cambodian-Americans landed in Phnom Penh on Wednesday, marking the first such deportations of the year. “On Wednesday, US law enforcement authorities deported 25 Cambodian nationals that immigration judges determined had no legal basis to remain in the US,” said Arend Zwartjes, spokesperson for the US