“Cambodia’s human rights efforts and progress recognized by many speakers at UN Debate in Geneva,” underlined the Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Cambodia in Geneva in a press statement AKP received this morning.

The full press statement reads as follows:

“An Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur (SR) on the Situation of Human Rights in Cambodia (Oral Update), held on 29 March 2022 in Geneva, was concluded with 36 state delegations participating in the debate.

On the said occasion, 28 delegations spoke in favor of Cambodia’s efforts, progress and achievements in promoting and protecting human rights. Many lauded the government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, including high rate of free national inoculation roll-out and social protection schemes for the vulnerable groups. Progress and achievements in advancing the roles of women in leadership, entrepreneurship, peace and security, and promotion of children’s rights are also recognized. Others commended Cambodia’s efforts in engaging broad consultations with relevant stakeholders in drafting a Law on the National Human Rights Institution in compliance with the Paris Principles, and stressed that the working methods of the Special Rapporteur should be objective, balanced, non-politicized and non-selective, taking into account the perspective of the government, national circumstances and the importance of reliable, verifiable sources and factual information.

Efforts of Cambodia with regard to electoral reform, political space, and plurality of political views to ensure that the upcoming elections are free, fair, orderly, peaceful and transparent are also welcomed by delegation of ASEAN and others.

The other 08 delegations taking part in the debate voiced critical comments over civic and political space, including freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. At the same time, almost all of them welcomed Cambodia’s long-standing cooperation and constructive engagement with the UN human rights mechanisms, including the OHCHR, Treaty Body and the SR, and Cambodia’s socio-economic progress and considerable efforts to implement electoral reform.

In challenging the SR’s allegation that human rights and democracy in the Kingdom are intimidating and disconcerting, the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Cambodia to the United Nations in Geneva rebutted and stressed as follows:

• “Despite the government’s genuine cooperation manifested through 19 dialogues with the SR since last May, his report does not set the record straight and is far from flawless in terms of objectivity, impartiality and non-selectivity.”

• “We repeated the call for concrete evidences from the SR, who provoked two allegations in the previous report.”

• “The fact is that the full peace, territorial unity and genuine national reconciliation, which was unfulfilled by the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) in line with the spirit of the Paris Peace Accord, was completely realized with the ‘win-win policy’ of the incumbent Samdech Prime Minister Hun Sen. This great success has driven the Kingdom to progress and development with remarkable achievements, particularly becoming a “lower middle income” country in 2016 and meeting for the first time the LDC graduation criteria last year. Last week, Japan Prime Minister Kishida Fumio, proud of Cambodia’s progress, hinted Cambodia’s spirit of peace should be learnt as the world is now living in a worrying time.”

• “Human rights agenda is rarely about a sprint and perfection, but a long-distance run with commitment, effort and progress. This topic should be debated on the basis of statistics and efforts, not perception.”

• “Cambodia is small in size, but a home to more than 2,000 digital and traditional media outlets, including the critical ones; nearly 6,000 trade unions; and nearly 6,000 registered NGOs.”

• “Ironically, the SR on the one hand insisted on transparency and accountability, but on the other hand blamed our NGOs Law for including these vital principles on funding and activities of the NGOs.”

On the so-called mass trials, the PR of Cambodia clarified:

• “The SR did not detail them, in fact involving the call for sedition, which is deplored by all. The ring leader was explicitly condemned by the SR’s predecessor in this Council for his provocation to overthrow the people-elected government.”

• “An affiliation with a political party and NGOs is not a license to break the law with impunity. Crime is a crime, and it cannot be justified for other aspirations.”

While recalling that some opposition leaders branded those seeking reinstatement of political rights as traitors and incited bank borrowers not to pay back the loans, the Ambassador questioned the SR and Western colleagues, “Are these the opposition voices and free speech you are advocating in Cambodia?”

In rebuttal to the SR’s unwarranted grievance over the single-party rule, the PR of Cambodia underscored, “The power was elected democratically and constitutionally by the people. Despite the call for electoral boycott by some groups in 2018, the turnout was 83.02%, with 77% of them trusting the ruling party to maintain peace, political stability and sustainable development.”

On elections, the Cambodia Representative highlighted, “At least 32 former opposition leaders had their political rights reinstated with some forming six new parties to challenge the ruling party in the coming election. Efforts and policy were also put in place to ensure that it is free, fair, orderly, peaceful and transparent. Among them is the electoral reform, including digitization. The composition of the National Election Committee remains bipartisan and neutral in line with the law. Local authorities were duly instructed to create a conducive environment for the 17 parties inscribed in the contest. The electoral body and the government held dialogues with opposition parties to address the latter’s concerns.”

Finally, the PR reaffirmed Cambodia’s resolute commitment to the continued work with all partners to promote and protect human rights for all within the rule of law, to advance sustainable development, and to uphold the hard-won peace, cherished by Cambodian people.”

Source: Agency Kampuchea Press

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