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Cambodia’s UN mission rejects criticism of election laws

Ven Rathavong / Khmer Times Share:
Journalists cover an election campaign. KT/Chor Sokunthea

The Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Cambodia to the United Nations responded to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) for its misinterpretation and criticism of Cambodia’s laws on elections and the Media Code of Conduct (MCC) issued by the National Election Committee.

OHCHR human rights experts had issued a statement to the effect that the MCC uses “broad and imprecise terminology that could lead to sweeping restrictions on the media”  that would be incompatible with international standards and raise serious concerns about freedom of speech.

Cambodia responded on Friday, June 15, saying that the MCC in no way prohibits the media functioning in accordance with existing laws.  It is meant to help run a smooth and orderly election, and prohibit publications inciting racial hatred or violence.  The NEC’s measures in no way try to suppress freedom of association and peaceful assembly.

“It is so confusing, odd and contradictory, not only for the public, the Royal Government of Cambodia, but also for the international community …” that the NEC’s measures are seen in the wrong light.

They were applied during communal elections and were met with approval by the international community because they enabled the elections to be conducted in an orderly manner that could be modelled for future elections.

Responding to the OHCHR’s views on certain detainees, it was pointed out that punishment of offenders for the benefit of the greater public shouldn’t be seen as menacing to human rights, freedom of expression or political views, but as legitimate law enforcement.

Cambodia opines that the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur is to assist the promotion and protection human rights, not to make statements that could be seen as interference in the on-going judicial proceedings of a sovereign state.

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