Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - UN rapporteur to monitor rights in visit to Kingdom

UN rapporteur to monitor rights in visit to Kingdom

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Rhona Smith will arrive in Phnom Penh on April 29 to monitor the current human rights situation in Cambodia. Hong Menea

UN rapporteur to monitor rights in visit to Kingdom

Rhona Smith, the UN Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Cambodia, is to arrive in Phnom Penh on Monday to monitor the current situation in the Kingdom at the invitation of the government.

During an 11-day visit from April 29 to May 9, Smith is due to meet senior members of the government, representatives of civil society and members of the diplomatic community, the UNHRC said on Wednesday.

Smith will also visit various locations to gather information directly as she compiles a report on the human rights situation in Cambodia, which is to be presented to the council in Geneva in September.

“I will be focusing my mission on the current situation of human rights and will be following up on developments since my previous mission last November.

“I also aim to continue my examination of human rights with respect to the Sustainable Development Goals, looking in particular at non-discrimination and equality, and participation and accountability,” Smith said.

She will close her visit with a press conference at the Human Rights Council office in Phnom Penh to discuss the preliminary findings from her time in the Kingdom.

Ministry of Justice spokesman Chin Malin said Smith was making one of her regular visits to the country, as she does two or three times a year, in which she focuses her attention on various issues regarding human rights in Cambodia.

He said Cambodia had endeavoured to build on past visits, address concerns and meet recommendations laid out in previous reports.

“Each visit always results in progress, and we make reports to her on the development of rights, freedom and democracy in Cambodia. She comes to assess the recommendations made for Cambodia, how Cambodia has implemented them and what challenges we are facing,” Malin said.

Malin added the government would report to Smith when she arrived on how Cambodia had implemented past recommendations made, as well as outline what goals would be enacted next.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan said that Cambodia welcomed Smith’s visit as the Kingdom has good relations with the UNHRC and they were development partners in bolstering human rights in Cambodia.

“She will receive good cooperation in strengthening the human rights sector in Cambodia on her visit, but there is no closing of human rights in Cambodia,” he said.

Chak Sopheap, the executive director of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights (CCHR), could not be reached for comment.

Smith had said after her previous visit to Cambodia concluded in November last year: “I encourage the government to create a more favourable environment for civil society to operate. This will be an important step in creating the space for free and informed debate around the pressing issues to promote Cambodia’s sustainable development and lasting peace.”

She also renewed calls for Kem Sokha, the president of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party, to be released from his treason charge, saying that keeping the former opposition leader on bail at his house in Phnom Penh under court-imposed conditions was a restriction of his rights.

Despite the good sentiment expressed before this most recent visit, there have been tensions between Smith and the Cambodian government in recent years.

In September last year, Siphan accused Smith of acting like a “teacher in a classroom” after she labelled the Kingdom a “de facto single party state” after the results of the general election saw the ruling Cambodian People’s Party win all 125 parliamentary seats.

“[Smith] regards Cambodia as a classroom and Cambodia’s leaders as her students. She should evaluate Cambodia based on the realities – where the Kingdom started its journey and where it is now,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hong Kong firm done buying Coke Cambodia

    Swire Coca-Cola Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Swire Pacific Ltd, on November 25 announced that it had completed the acquisition of The Coca-Cola Co’s bottling business in Cambodia, as part of its ambitions to expand into the Southeast Asian market. Swire Coca-Cola affirmed

  • Cambodia's Bokator now officially in World Heritage List

    UNESCO has officially inscribed Cambodia’s “Kun Lbokator”, commonly known as Bokator, on the World Heritage List, according to Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona in her brief report to Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of November 29. Her report, which was

  • NagaWorld union leader arrested at airport after Australia trip

    Chhim Sithar, head of the Labour Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees at NagaWorld integrated casino resort, was arrested on November 26 at Phnom Penh International Airport and placed in pre-trial detention after returning from a 12-day trip to Australia. Phnom Penh Municipal Court Investigating Judge

  • Sub-Decree approves $30M for mine clearance

    The Cambodian government established the ‘Mine-Free Cambodia 2025 Foundation’, and released an initial budget of $30 million. Based on the progress of the foundation in 2023, 2024 and 2025, more funds will be added from the national budget and other sources. In a sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen

  • Two senior GDP officials defect to CPP

    Two senior officials of the Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) have asked to join the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), after apparently failing to forge a political alliance in the run-up to the 2023 general election. Yang Saing Koma, chairman of the GDP board, and Lek Sothear,

  • 11th Chaktomuk Short Film Festival draws to close

    Cambodia's 11th Chaktomuk Short Film Festival wrapped up successfully on November 28 after a four-day run, with the film “Voice of the Night” awarded top prize for 2022. Sum Sithen, the organiser of the short film festival, told The Post that the number of attendees to the