Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - EU and UN praise not deserved



EU and UN praise not deserved

Family members mourn the loss of Eng Sokhom during her funeral in Phnom Penh
Family members mourn the loss of Eng Sokhom during her funeral in Phnom Penh. The 49-year-old rice vendor was a victim of November’s clashes in Meanchey district. Pha Lina

EU and UN praise not deserved

Dear Editor,

I was interested to read, in the article “Group calls on gov’t to probe deaths” (The Phnom Penh Post, November 29) that the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights have called on the United Nations to make its own investigations into the deaths of Mao Sok Chan and Eng Sokhom.

On October 10 the Post carried an article “Where Cambodia can lead”, which was jointly written by Jean-François Cautain, the European Union ambassador, and Wan-Hea Lee, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. At the time I thought this article was rather fulsome in its praise, implicit and explicit, of the Cambodian government.

When the authors wrote “The Kingdom of Cambodia continues to be an example in the fight against the death penalty and can be legitimately proud of the way it has drawn on lessons from the past . . .” this could only be seen as referring to the present government rather than the state as a sovereign entity.

Indeed the article went on to specifically commend the Royal Government of Cambodia for its stance on the death penalty at international level.

It was somewhat ironic that the same edition of The Phnom Penh Post carried a report of the death of Sok Chan, an innocent passer-by, shot dead when police started firing live ammunition when they themselves had not come under fire.

It was merely good fortune that more people were not killed, for at least nine others were wounded.

One of the main reasons Mr Cautain and Ms Wan-Hea Lee used to support their argument for the abolition of the death penalty, the sanctity of human life, must surely apply when well-armed state forces are deployed in times of political unrest, and I think one may have expected that both the EU and the UN local representatives would have been more critical of the government’s use of force than they have so far shown themselves to be.

Ms Wan-Hea Lee is quoted as saying there is “no excuse for excessive force from either side”, but no one can seriously take the view that the political opposition has the means to take on state security forces.

Indeed, the whole tenor of the campaigns it has organised have been peaceful. The ending of the death penalty may be something worth working towards.

Surely, however, diplomatic supporters, before lauding the government of any abolitionist state, should look at the whole picture of deaths which occur when police, paramilitary or military forces are deployed against civilians.

My Vote, My Life read the posters and banners in Freedom Park. The EU and the UN should be doing all they can to preserve the second, both in and out of the Cambodian judicial system.

Michael Hansen
Phnom Penh.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Phnom Penh curfew starts today

    A two-week curfew from 8pm to 5am starts today in Phnom Penh, a day after a sub-decree detailing administrative measures to contain Covid-19 was issued by Prime Minister Hun Sen. “Travelling in Phnom Penh is temporally banned between 8pm and 5am,” said Phnom Penh governor

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Cambodia gears up for muted New Year festival

    The recent curfew and restrictions imposed in the capital and other Covid-19 hotspots were intended to break the chain of transmission, Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said as municipal and provincial authorities issued new directives banning certain activities during the upcoming Khmer New Year

  • Culture ministry: Take Tuol Sleng photos down, or else

    The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has told Irish photographer Matt Loughrey to take down the photos of Khmer Rouge victims at Tuol Sleng Genocidal Museum which he allegedly colourised and altered to show them smiling. The ministry said Loughrey's work is unacceptable, affecting

  • Covid-19 vaccination now obligatory

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on April 11 issued a sub-decree making Covid-19 vaccination compulsory for individuals unless they have a medical certificate proving they have pre-existing health conditions that prevent them from doing so. «This applies to all members of the armed forces and civil servants