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UN asked to avoid bias on rights issues

UN asked to avoid bias on rights issues

Ministry of Foreign Affairs Hor Namhong yesterday urged the United Nations high commissioner for human rights representative in Cambodia not to be biased against the government and the ruling party in her evaluation of the state of human rights in Cambodia.

In his meeting with Wan-Hea Lee, who was appointed UN OHCHR Representative in Cambodia in 2012 and is now taking over duties as such, Namhong expressed a positive attitude toward OHCHR’s presence and preparation of its annual report on the country.

He warned, however, that Lee should report on the country’s human rights situation not based “on one side’s information – from the media and civil society, which tend to side with the opposition party”, Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said after the meeting.

The government has at times had a difficult relationship with OHCHR; Prime Minister Hun Sen previously threatened to close the office in Cambodia if then-representative Christophe Peschoux, whom he saw as allied with the opposition, was not fired.

Yesterday, Kuong said: “Hor Namhong expressed a warm welcome to Ms Wan-Hea Lee, and she expressed appreciation with her new appointment.”

Kuong noted that in January 2012, the government had renewed a two-year memorandum of understanding for cooperation with the OHCHR.

According to Lee, “the meeting was very productive and cordial. OHCHR provides a significant amount of technical assistance to the Royal Government to help improve the human rights situation in the country. OHCHR has always aimed to be independent and objective in its work.”

Although Kuong said Namhong had asked the OHCHR to monitor the upcoming elections, Lee said that although OHCHR’s monitoring continued through the election period, “the United Nations in Cambodia is not involved in organising or observing the 2013 National Assembly elections”.

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