The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (Cerd) has provided recommendations to the government to further improve awareness of racial discrimination issues.
The committee also expressed concerns about the situation of Vietnamese nationals, Khmer Krom people and other ethnic minorities in Cambodia.
The recommendations were published following the committee’s 100th session in Geneva, Switzerland which was held from November 25, to Friday, where adherence to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination by Columbia, Ireland, Israel, Uzbekistan and Cambodia was reviewed.
After reviewing Cambodia’s State report, the committee said: “The Committee is concerned about the situation of ethnic Vietnamese, Khmer Krom and indigenous people in Cambodia, and recommends that the State make efforts to raise awareness on issues of racism and racial discrimination.”
The UN Committee also highlighted reports of intimidation and attacks against human rights defenders, including indigenous leaders, who have sought to exercise the rights to their communal lands.
In late November, the Cambodian government sent seven delegates representing ministries and institutions, including the ministries of Interior; Rural Development; Justice; and Education, Youth and Sport.
Led by the Cambodian Human Rights Committee (CHRC), they attended the session and defended Cambodia’s 11-page State report.
The State report included the Kingdom’s response to the previous 10-point recommendation of the UN-Cerd – concerns on the economic and social situation of indigenous people, legal and judicial reform, implementation of the law on deportation of refugees or asylum-seekers, issuance of identity cards for Khmer Krom people and human rights institutions ratifying international conventions, as well as consultations with civil societies.
Rights group Adhoc spokesman Soeng Sen Karuna said the Kingdom had ratified many international treaties on the fight against racial discrimination and has included them in the Constitution.
However, he noted that the implementation of these treaties was unequal among people of Cambodian and foreign nationalities.
He said Cambodian nationals enjoyed more rights to legal and social services, such as education and health services among others, while foreign nationals seemed to live in isolation.
“So I think the view of the UN officials is not wrong. [The State] should review the recommendations as to which areas the government should fulfil,” he said.
Sen Karuna said in the past, indigenous peoples faced difficulties in seeking justice concerning land issues. He said that recently, a group of indigenous people travelled from Cambodia to France to seek legal assistance.
CHRC spokesman Chin Malin could not be reached for comment on Monday.