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Still falling short of Paris pact, say NGOs

OHCHR Cambodia representative Wan-Hea Lee speaks yesterday in Phnom Penh during a public forum on the Paris Peace Accords. Supplied
OHCHR Cambodia representative Wan-Hea Lee speaks yesterday in Phnom Penh during a public forum on the Paris Peace Accords. Supplied

Still falling short of Paris pact, say NGOs

In the run-up to this weekend’s 25th anniversary of the Paris Peace Accords, 50 NGOs yesterday said the government has yet to fully comply with tenets of the historic pact, as evidenced by continuing human rights violations, a biased judiciary and questions over free and fair elections.

The agreement, which was endorsed by 19 signatories on October 23, 1991, aimed to usher in peace after years of internal conflict. Central to the deal was the setting up of a constitutional democracy and adherence to human rights standards.

Speaking at yesterday’s forum, head of rights group CCHR Chak Sopheap said the jailing of four Adhoc workers and one election official, as well as the recent killing of political activist Kem Ley, pointed only to regression.

“We have seen the court being used for harassing human rights activists or those who criticise politicians,” she said. “So the human rights situation is only moving backwards.”

Wan-Hea Lee, of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said the lack of war or armed conflicts in the country were not the only measure for the success of the PPA.

“Is Cambodia today at peace? If human rights issues are potential causes of conflict, the way to mitigate them should be clear,” she said. The government’s prosecution of citizens who posted on social media and unlawful curbs on peaceful protests only add to the failures in implementing the accords, she added.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan said the accords were no longer pertinent now that Cambodia had its own parliament and constitution, which were being used to implement the rule of law.

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