UN rights experts yesterday urged the government to reconsider constitutional amendments, including a law that forbids insulting the monarchy, saying the changes were too vague and failed to meet international standards.
Parliament last week adopted a law that forbids insulting the monarchy, along with other amendments to the constitution on the rights of voters, prompting concerns from rights groups who say they could be used against government critics.
“We urge the government of Cambodia to carry out a rigorous and thorough reassessment of the draft amendments to ensure they comply with international human rights laws and standards,” Rhona Smith and David Kaye, both UN Special Rapporteurs, said in a statement.
The UN experts added that the proposed amendments used “broad terminology and would need more precise language to meet international standards”.
“The right to political participation and freedom of expression are of particular importance during electoral processes, and the authorities have a responsibility to ensure that individuals, political parties and the media can operate without being sanctioned,” the experts said.
The statement came after Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday held his annual meeting with the delegation from the UN in Cambodia.
After almost five hours of talks, Mr Hun Sen’s assistant Eang Sophalleth told reporters the meeting included discussion of a national master plan for sustainable development.
He said the two sides also discussed youth issues, vocational training and how to protect society.
Mr Sophalleth did not elaborate on the discussions, but confirmed the master plan for sustainable development had been drafted by the Planning Ministry and would be submitted to the Cabinet for approval soon.
Mr Sophalleth said the United Nation’s coordinator for Cambodia Claire Van der Vaeren had applauded the country for its reforms and development.
“Her excellency said the UN would continue to support partnership with Cambodia,” he said.
The UN has contributed to helping Cambodia develop in many sectors, including education, health and good governance, he added.
Under the new lese-majeste law, those found guilty would face between one and five years in prison and a fine of between $500 and $2,500.