Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - UN council to discuss 'deteriorating' rights situation in Cambodia

UN council to discuss 'deteriorating' rights situation in Cambodia

The 22nd session of the U.N. Human Rights Council met in Geneva on Feb. 25, 2013. AFP
The 22nd session of the U.N. Human Rights Council met in Geneva on Feb. 25, 2013. AFP

UN council to discuss 'deteriorating' rights situation in Cambodia

The United Nations Human Rights Council is expected to hear strong criticism of Cambodia's government at a Thursday meeting in Geneva that will include statements from NGOs concerned about increasing repression of politicians and civil society.

The UN typically uses the session on technical assistance and capacity building to highlight progress in specific countries. It will also address the months-long downturn in Cambodia, said Laila Matar, a deputy director at Human Rights Watch responsible for monitoring the United Nations.

They "will touch on moves by the Hun Sen government in advance of July elections including the arrest of the leader of the opposition, dissolution of the main opposition party, prosecution and jailing of human rights defenders and politicians, and closure or censorship independent media,” she said in an email.

In recent months, authorities have arrested opposition party leader Kem Sokha, with his Cambodia National Rescue Party subsequently dissolved. Many of the opposition party's members have fled the country fearing arrest, and the courts have targeted a host of rights advocates with charges widely believed politically motivated. Independent newspaper the Cambodia Daily was also shuttered in September after receiving a $6.3 million tax bill, and the Ministry of Information took more than a dozen radio stations broadcasting Voice of America and Radio Free Asia content off the air.

Matt Pollard, who will represent the International Commission of Jurists at the session, said the UN Secretary General and High Commissioner for Human Rights had already “expressed deep concerns about the repression of democratic and civic space in Cambodia.”

“The discussions this week are a key opportunity for the international community to send a strong message to the Government of Cambodia that it must immediately restore respect for human rights through concrete action, and that the upcoming elections in July cannot be seen as credible unless this happens,” he said.

Amnesty International is also expected to speak. In its report, which the organisation’s Olof Blomqvist said would be presented at the session, the NGO criticises the suppression of political opponents and attacks on civil society and the media. They recommend holding an urgent debate in the Council to address what it described as "the deteriorating human rights situation in Cambodia.”

“The 37th session provides one last opportunity for the Council to address this deteriorating human rights situation before the Cambodian general elections, scheduled for 29 July 2018,” Amnesty said.

The UN's deputy high commissioner for human rights, Kate Gilmore, is expected to present the Secretary-General’s report on Cambodia, which notes a “continued escalation in political tensions and curtailment of civic space” since July.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen ready to ‘break record’, says Rainsy lost

    Caretaker prime minister Hun Sen used a meeting with 18,400 factory workers on Wednesday to predict that he would beat the record for being the world’s longest-serving non-royal leader. He also used the platform to slam political opponent Sam Rainsy who he said had lost

  • Sihanoukville land prices skyrocketing amid breakneck development

    Sihanoukville, the Kingdom’s most famous beach destination for tourists, is seemingly becoming a paradise for Chinese investors as well. The huge influx of Chinese investors has caused property values to rise, especially the price of land, which has nearly doubled in some places near

  • US names new ambassador to Cambodia

    US President Donald Trump on Friday appointed W Patrick Murphy as the new US Ambassador to Cambodia, replacing incumbent William A Heidt. A press release posted on the White House’s website said nominee W Patrick Murphy is currently acting principal deputy assistant secretary at

  • Kingdom is at a crossroads between East, West after poll

    It was dubbed a success by caretaker prime minister Hun Sen after the electoral victory of his Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), which is poised to take all seats in the National Assembly. But the July 29 national election has not been positively looked at by