Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - UN envoy meets with NEC

UN envoy meets with NEC

United Nations Special Rapporteur Rhona Smith (right) sits across from NEC Chairman Sik Bun Hok in a meeting yesterday in Phnom Penh.
United Nations Special Rapporteur Rhona Smith (right) sits across from NEC Chairman Sik Bun Hok in a meeting yesterday in Phnom Penh. Heng Chivoan

UN envoy meets with NEC

The National Election Committee (NEC) yesterday told United Nations Special Rapporteur Rhona Smith that election monitoring coalition the “Situation Room” will have to register with the Interior Ministry if it wants to deploy observers for next year’s elections – despite there being no such requirement in the NGO Law.

The special rapporteur met with NEC Chairman Sik Bun Hok yesterday as part of her 10-day visit to the Kingdom, raising the issue of the targeting of the election monitoring group following the commune elections, as well as the registration of migrant workers.

Following the meeting, NEC spokesman Hang Puthea said the electoral body’s head informed Smith that the Situation Room could continue with its monitoring of the elections as long as it followed the law.

“If they adhere to the law, the law will protect them. In short, it is good if they just follow the law,” he said.

The Situation Room’s legitimacy came into question after it assessed that the recently concluded commune elections were “not fully free and fair”, prompting Prime Minister Hun Sen to order an investigation into whether the loose collective of NGOs needed to be registered to operate.

An Interior Ministry investigation, however, only alleged that the NGO coalition had acted with a political bias, and did not go after it for not registering. The Law on Associations and NGOs allows civil society groups to pool together resources for projects, without having to register a new organisation.

Smith also said she raised concerns to the election body about migrant workers’ inability to register and vote – an issue brought up repeatedly by the opposition and civil society.

“I also asked about the Cambodian migrants and the opportunity for them to vote, but the director of NEC told that they have not lost their rights to vote,” she said.

UN Rapporteur Rhona Smith speaks to the press after meeting with the National Election Committee yesterday in Phnom Penh.
UN Rapporteur Rhona Smith speaks to the press after meeting with the National Election Committee yesterday in Phnom Penh. Heng Chivoan

Recently, the NEC’s Bun Hok diverted blame for not registering Cambodian migrant workers to political parties, claiming the electoral body could not act outside the limits of the law.

The Cambodia National Rescue Party has since submitted legislation to the National Assembly enabling registration and voting along the Thai border and at embassies. The draft is at the Permanent Committee awaiting a decision on whether it will be forwarded to the floor.

“They can register in the country since our law does not allow NEC to create offices at the border or at an embassy,” Bun Hok said.

Yoeung Sotheara, a legal officer with election monitor Comfrel, questioned why the NEC was continuing to ask the Situation Room to register when there were no such legal requirements. Additionally, he said there was no organisational structure to the coalition, and thus requiring it to register would cause complications.

“Then will the leaders of the NGOs have to resign to join this new organisation?” he asked.

Smith said after the meeting that she also voiced concerns about the ruling party’s repeated “use of violent rhetoric” in the political sphere and “emphasised the need to avoid all forms of threatening and intimidating rhetoric in the months ahead”.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia armed with money laundering laws

    Money laundering will now carry a penalty of up to five years in prison while those convicted of financing terrorists will be jailed for up to 20 years, according to new laws promulgated by King Norodom Sihamoni and seen by The Post on Thursday. Comprising nine

  • Schools to be reopened in ‘three stages’

    With guidance from Prime Minister Hun Sen, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, is in the process of reopening schools in three stages. But no timeline has been set, ministry spokesperson Ros Soveacha said on Thursday. Soveacha said the first stage will be to

  • Thai border crossings eased

    The Cambodian Embassy in Thailand said in an announcement on Wednesday that Thailand’s government has allowed certain passengers from several countries to enter its borders. The visitors must go back to their country immediately after their duties in Thailand are fulfilled, the embassy said.

  • Gov’t says tourism recovers slightly despite pandemic

    The Ministry of Tourism and the Phnom Penh municipal administration have recognised 33 tourism businesses in the capital which have consistently implemented safety measures for tourists and adhered to the code of conduct issued by the ministry. Recently, the ministry announced that tourism businesses had to

  • Mull ASEAN border opening, PM urges

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that ASEAN launch a scenario for gradually reopening cross-border travel and trade between countries in the region. He said ASEAN has had more success combating Covid-19 compared to other regions. The prime minister’s request was made at the

  • Ministry reports 11 new Covid-19 cases, reiterates vigilance

    Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng has urged people to continue practising virus prevention techniques after 11 people tested positive for Covid-19 within two days after arriving in the Kingdom. Speaking on Sunday, Bun Heng stressed the importance of washing hands, wearing masks or scarves when

  • Koh Rong land ‘belongs to firm’

    Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration spokesperson Kheang Phearum told The Post on Sunday that the 35ha being bulldozed by Royal Group Co Ltd in Koh Rong belongs to it after it was leased to it for 99 years by the government in 2008. Phearum said the land does

  • Nine on Indonesia flight Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health on Saturday confirmed nine more imported cases of Covid-19. The nine ‒ eight Cambodians and one Indonesian, aged 22 to 26 ‒ arrived in Cambodia on Thursday via a direct flight from Indonesia and are receiving treatment at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hostipal in Phnom Penh.

  • Kingdom’s financial sector healthy

    Cambodia's financial sector remains on a sustainable growth path despite the Covid-19 pandemic squeezing crucial industries, National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) governor Chea Chanto said. Tourism, garments and footwear have borne the brunt of the Covid-19 impact, he said, whereas the financial and agriculture sectors

  • Vietnam told to remove border tents

    Kandal provincial governor Kong Sophoan has ordered local authorities to prohibit the construction of buildings in areas bordering Cambodia and to report any irregularities immediately. Recently, Vietnamese officials removed another seven tents from the border area with Cambodia. His remarks were made on Wednesday afternoon