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Cambodia comes under fires at UN Human Rights Council meeting

Written by Thailand News

The Cambodian government came under heavy fires from western governments and NGOs at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Thursday evening (March 23) for the Kingdom’s ongoing crackdown on political opposition and civil society, The Phnom Penh Post Online reported on Friday.

Kate Gilmore, the UN deputy high commissioner for human rights first took the floor to speak on Cambodia, kicking off the discussion by calling out a “serious deterioration.”

“There were notable improvements in economic and social rights,” said Gilmore, adding “however, economic, social and cultural rights are indivisible from civil and political rights and we urge the government to take action to reverse the recent serious deterioration in the status of political rights and fundamental freedoms,”

Cambodia’s permanent representative to the UN Ney Sam Ol responded by rejecting the criticism and underscoring the importance of economic development, while accusing some governments of seeking regime change through colour revolution.

But the rejection did little to dampen other participants’ criticisms.  Swedish representative called on the council to closely watch Cambodia.

The International Commission of Jurists Rebecca Horton said the Cambodian government continues to misuse the law to clamp down on the political opposition, on civil society and on ordinary individuals under the guise of the rule of law.

Speaking for the Forum Asia, Front Line Defenders, Freedom House and Civicus, R Iniyan Ilango hit out at recent legal amendments, accusing the government of creating a climate of fear and intimidation that has escalated in the leadup to elections.

Human Rights Watch and International Federation for Human Rights Leagues joined the chorus of criticism, after which the next speaker, a representative of Human Rights Now, was attacked by Sam Ol.  

“You should not use this (agenda) item to slander a sovereign state,” Sam Ol interrupted.

China and Venezuela spoke up in support of Cambodia.

Responding at the end of the criticisms, Sam Ol launched a fusillade against the critics, accusing them of “aiming to slander the Cambodian government..in order to give preference to their selected candidates to win in July.”


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