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

  • Phnom Penh placed in two-week lockdown

    The government has decided to place Phnom Penh in lockdown for two weeks, effective April 14 midnight through April 28, as Cambodia continues to grapple with the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen no sign of subsiding. According to a directive signed by Prime Minister

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Hun Sen: Stay where you are, or else

    Prime Minister Hun Sen warned that the two-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Kandal provincial town Takmao could be extended if people are not cooperative by staying home. “Now let me make this clear: stay in your home, village, and district and remain where

  • Businesses in capital told to get travel permit amid lockdown through One Window Service

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration has issued guidelines on how to get travel permission for priority groups during the lockdown of Phnom Penh, directing private institutions to apply through the municipality's One Window Service and limit their staff to a mere two per cent. In

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Ministry names types of business permitted amid lockdown

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training singled out 11 types of business that are permitted to operate during the lockdown of Phnom Penh and Takmao town, which run through April 28. Those include (1) food-processing enterprises and slaughterhouses; (2) providers of public services such as firefighting, utility and