Government responds to UN human rights concerns

Source : Phnom Penh Post 

ECCC spokesperson Neth Pheaktra hold a press conference last month. The independence of the UN-sponsored Extraordinary Chambers in the Court of Cambodia (ECCC) was also cited as a concern among UN experts. Pha Lina

Government officials on Monday hit back at UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) criticisms expressed ahead of the UN’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) scheduled for next month.

In preparation for the UPR on Cambodian human rights on January 30, UN human rights experts released a statement expressing concern over the harassment and intimidation of journalists, human rights defenders, trade unions, land and environment activists, civil society actors and members of the opposition in Cambodia.

The UNHCR statement said these people “continued to be prosecuted for their activities, in particular through the criminalisation of defamation and other vaguely formulated offences.”

They added that new laws had been passed which contained provisions that could potentially restrict freedom of expression, association and assembly, namely the Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organisations (Lango), the Trade Union Law and the Telecommunications Law.

Ministry of Justice spokesperson Chin Malin countered that all the laws were made to ensure freedom for journalists, civil society and trade unions, and not restrict them.

He said a handful saw the laws as restricting freedom because they had previously exercised political agendas.

“Before we had these laws passed, they performed their activities so free that they exceeded the laws and affected the rights of others. Sometimes they exercised their freedom with a political agenda which affected public order.”

“When we prepare these laws to ensure public order, they think this restricts their freedom because they used to do whatever they wanted [and] with a political agenda,” he said.

Malin said the government was nevertheless willing to amend these laws if and when necessary, adding that they had already conducted a public forum to discuss improving the laws.

“If they have concerns they can raise it and we can discuss amending the law for the sake of our society. But we see that after these laws were passed, only a handful of media, trade unions and society groups were not happy,” he said.

The UN also highlighted concerns over democracy in Cambodia, pointing towards the “dissolution of the main opposition party [the CNRP]” in the run up to July’s national elections.

National Election Committee (NEC) deputy secretary-general Som Sorida said in response that the NEC was respecting the law and that it was not involved in the dissolution of any political party.

He added that election law did not require the participation of a small or big opposition parties. But what was important, he said, was the legitimacy of the law.

The independence of the UN-sponsored Extraordinary Chambers in the Court of Cambodia (ECCC) was also cited as a concern among UN experts.

UNHRC said comments by high-ranking government officials stating there were no more cases left to try at the ECCC, following guilty verdicts against former Khmer Rouge leaders Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan last month, was “interference” with the functioning and independence of the tribunal.

ECCC spokesperson Neth Pheaktra responded that the tribunal was established through an agreement between the UN and the Cambodian government to independently prosecute the crimes committed during the Khmer Rouge’s Democratic Kampuchea era, and rejected suggestions of government interference.

“Judges, co-prosecutors, lawyers and all legal officers at the ECCC work and decide independently without any interference. Neither Cambodia nor the UN can decide to end the investigation, but only a judicial body can make the decision,” Pheatra said.

He said Deputy Prime Minister Bin Chhin – the Cambodian government’s Khmer Rouge Tribunal taskforce chairman – recently met with UN under-secretary-general for legal affairs and UN legal counsel, Miguel de Serpa Soares. Pheatra said Bin Chhin reiterated the government’s support for the ECCC, saying it wanted it to fulfil and complete its mandate with due process, dignity and honour.

 

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Land dispute under spotlight

Source : Phnom penh Post

Evictees watch a community building burn next to a sugar plantation in Oddar Meanchey during a 2009 eviction. CCHR released a report on Thursday on the experiences of local communities across three provinces who suffered rights violations as a result of land disputes. Photo supplied

The Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) released a report on Thursday on the experiences of local communities across three provinces who suffered rights violations as a result of land disputes with companies operating in the Kingdom. Continue reading

Increase in land dispute resolutions

Source : Khmer Times 

A land title is given to a Kratie villager. Supplied

The Land Management Ministry yesterday announced it solved 364 out of 990 land dispute cases reported throughout the country this year, an increase when compared to last year’s 208 solved cases.

A report issued yesterday noted that the ministry’s cadastral survey commission solved 263 of the cases, while the ministry’s working group solved 101. Continue reading

UNHRC releases documents on state of Cambodia

Source : Phnom Penh Post 

UN Special Rapporteur Rhona Smith speaks to the press last year in Phnom Penh. Pha Lina

The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has published three documents in preparation for a review next month on the situation in Cambodia.

The UNHRC is set to review the human rights situation in the Kingdom on January 30 during the 32nd Universal Periodic Review (UPR), which is to be held from January 21 to February 1.

The UPR was last held in January 2013. Continue reading

Mondulkiri Bunong families seek government intervention

Source : Phnom Penh Post

A bulldozer was used to clear Mondulkiri Bunong families’s farmland. Supplied

Fourteen indigenous families from Mondulkiri province’s Dak Dam commune have sought urgent intervention from local authorities and a human rights NGO after machinery was used to clear their farmland.

The representative of the 14 Bunong ethnic groups, Yat Tay, said on Monday that farmland covering nearly 10ha – used to grow mango, jackfruit, avocado, and pineapple – was illegally bulldozed on Saturday and Monday. Continue reading

Police, NGOs review policy aimed for child protection

Source : Phnom Penh Post 

Cambodian children wade in polluted water at a village in Phnom Penh on October 18, 2017. TANG CHHIN SOTHY/afp

Contents of the Child Friendly Police Procedure Manual are being reviewed to ensure it helps to protect the rights of minors, said Child Rights Coalition Cambodia (CRC-Cambodia) executive director Son Penh.

He said the review is being carried out by the Police Academy of Cambodia, in cooperation with CRC-Cambodia and support from Plan International Cambodia. The three had originally cooperated to create the Child Friendly Police Procedure Manual in July last year. Continue reading

EU Ambassador ‘Concerned’ Over Rights Situation in Cambodia

Source : VOA

European Union’s ambassador to Cambodia George Edgar speaks to the press at the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at the Institute of Technology Cambodia, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Monday, December 10, 2018. (Nem Sopheakpanha/VOA Khmer

The European Union’s ambassador to Cambodia, George Edgar, has expressed concern over the deterioration of human rights in Cambodia.

On the 70th anniversary of the passing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on Monday, Edgar said it was “no secret” that the E.U. was concerned by the dissolution of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party last year and the jailing of its leader, Kem Sokha, on treason charges. Continue reading