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UN envoy’s mission to focus on justice

UN envoy’s mission to focus on justice

SURYA Subedi, the UN’s special rapporteur for human rights in Cambodia, will arrive in the country Tuesday for a 10-day trip, during which he will assess the state of the country’s judicial system, UN officials said.

“I will focus my mission to Cambodia on the functioning of the judiciary as part of my ongoing assessment of institutions critical to the promotion and protection of human rights, with a view to assessing the extent to which it is accessible to ordinary Cambodians and delivers justice,” Subedi said in a statement issued Friday by the local office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The visit – Subedi’s third since he was appointed to the position in 2009 – will also include meetings with King Norodom Sihamoni, Prime Minister Hun Sen, judicial officials and civil society representatives.

Tith Sothea, a member of the Press and Quick Reaction Unit at the Council of Ministers, said Sunday that officials from the government-run Cambodian Human Rights Committee will welcome Subedi and work with him in order to improve the human rights situation in Cambodia.

“We will continue to cooperate with him to promote human rights issues and continue to reform our judicial system to serve the interest of democracy in Cambodia,” he said.

Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights, said the judiciary’s lack of independence was on display last Wednesday when the Supreme Court upheld a conviction against Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Mu Sochua, who has been charged with defaming Prime Minister Hun Sen.

“Freedom of expression remains a hot issue, and we will raise the controversial conviction of opposition lawmaker Mu Sochua as an example of the rights violations and judicial loopholes that allow the powerful and the rich to put pressure on freedom of expression and the poor,” he said.

Each year, Subedi presents a report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva assessing the Cambodian human rights situation.

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