Cambodia on the edge: UN official Rhona Smith

Source: Khmer Times

Ms Smith said peaceful demonstrations did not threaten public order. KT/Chor Sokunthea

Cambodia is on the edge of a precipice, according to UN rights official Rhona Smith, who condemned violent rhetoric by the government.

Ms Smith spoke out on Friday as she she completed her mission to the nation.

“The general situation in the country remains tense,” she said.

Ms Smith, who met ministers, politicians, NGOs, land activists and provincial governors during her mission, said she remained concerned over the rhetoric by members of the government and the military, and with the political party law amendments.

She added that laws being employed to restrict criticism against the government and quell political debate continued to increase.

Ms Smith pointed out that peaceful demonstrations and public debate, including human rights and election monitoring, were not a threat to public order or national security.

She said legal action against politicians, questioning the neutrality of NGOs, extensive pre-trial detention, and intimidation and fear were not compatible with an environment conducive to free elections.

“I urge the government to ensure that all parties enjoy open debate and discussion on issues of concern to all Cambodians,” she said.

“I urge the government to ensure that all parties enjoy open debate and discussion on issues of concern to all Cambodians,” she said. .”

“So many have worked tirelessly to ensure the peaceful transition of Cambodia from conflict and genocide, to democracy,” she added.

“This path must be continued. It is what all Cambodians deserve.”

CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said human rights in Cambodia were the best in the region.

Mr Eysan said Cambodia did not have the death penalty and was widely open for people to have freedom of expression.

News and broadcasts were not censored, but if they reported wrongly they were requested to make changes.

“Nowadays, Cambodian people have freedom of expression, writing and broadcasting of all pictures,” he said.

Mr Eysan added that people were free to believe and support any political party in accordance with their will.

“All votes are accepted by the ruling party 100 percent,” he said.

“People have a choice to be independent, without intimidation.”

CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann could not be reached for comment.

Pol Ham, vice-president of the CNRP, declined to comment.

Lao Mong Hay, a political and social analyst, said Ms Smith’s departing comments were similar to her previous ones.

Mr Mong Hay added that he concurred with her assessment.

“Before 2015, the situation in Cambodia was better than it was in 2016, because in 2016, both parties had tension with each other,” Mr Mong Hay said.

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