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UN’s Smith meets with Sar Kheng

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Rhona Smith meets with Minister of the Interior Sar Kheng on Wednesday. Heng Chivoan

UN’s Smith meets with Sar Kheng

In a meeting with Sar Kheng on Wednesday, UN Special Rapporteur for human rights in Cambodia Rhona Smith requested the creation of a forum to strengthen government-civil society cooperation, said Ministry of Interior spokesman Phat Sophanit.

He told reporters after the meeting that Smith requested the forum in order to strengthen dialogue between the two sides and provide a platform for citizens to offer their feedback and opinions.

“In short, Smith obviously sees progress with regard to the implementation of the tasks of the government so far, especially with regard to the creation of a clear mechanism for the government and civil society to meet each other regularly every two years,” Sophanit said.

He said Smith expressed positivity over the government’s progress on certain issues and encouraged them to continue to implement other commitments that had been made.

She raised the issue of single windows – an initiative aiming to interconnect customs checkpoints and automatically share cargo-related data and information in an effort to speed up cross-border trade.

The initiative also helps to strengthen the provision of public services for citizens in a more transparent manner and helps prevent and reduce corruption and bribes.

Sophanit said Smith also raised the issues of anti-drug campaigns and the exercise of rights and freedom by NGOs with Sar Kheng.

“She requested the Ministry of Interior to make efforts to continue the implementation of initiatives, such as adding more single windows, building more prison infrastructure and introducing rehabilitation programmes for drug addicts,” he said.

On his part, Sar Kheng welcomed Smith’s comments and reportedly guaranteed he would assign the relevant departments with the responsibility to fulfil each task.

Separately, Smith wrote on her Facebook page on Wednesday afternoon that she had also met with Secretary General of the National Authority for Combating Drugs Meas Vyrith.

In this meeting, she was briefed on the implementation of an anti-drugs campaign initiated in January 2017, as well as the efforts that had been taken to support drug-users through community-based services, and strategies developed by the authorities together with NGOs to combat drugs.

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