The Cambodian Human Rights Committee on Tuesday responded to the criticisms made by members of the United Nations Human Rights Council during its Universal Periodic Review in January.
During the review, the United States, France and the United Kingdom said the government should reinstate the now-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party, while Japan said Cambodia has to focus on improving political inclusion and reform its judicial system.
China, on the other hand, said the international community must respect the will of the Cambodian people. All in all, a total of 198 recommendations were submitted by 73 UN member states during the UPR.
After about two months of deliberation with other governmental institutions, the CHRC on Tuesday issued a statement saying that Cambodia has decided to accept most of them, except for reinstating the CNRP.
“Generally, we accepted most of the recommendations – it is a reflection of the will of the government in promoting human rights,” said CHRC vice president Chin Malin yesterday. “Most of the recommendations we noted was related to the dissolution of the CNRP, the detention of Kem Sokha and the banning of 118 senior CNRP officials from politics.”
“We think these conditions were politically motivated, and contrary to our legal mechanisms,” he added. “These recommendations were led by the US and its allies in Europe.”
On Tuesday, CHRC issued a statement saying that it will only accept recommendations that is supportive of the government.
“After reviewing 198 recommendations, the CHRC met with officials from government institutions to discuss and exchange opinions before relaying the recommendations to ministries for them to make a decision on which recommendations to implement, reject, or note,” it said.
“Cambodia has decided to accept 173 recommendations and note 25 out of the total 198 that we received,” it added. “The 173 recommendations were accepted because they were consistent with our policies and reform programmes, which are aiming to protect and promote the freedom of the people.”
Simon Walker, representative of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia, yesterday said the government can only either support recommendations or note them.
“Supporting recommendations highlights a commitment on behalf of the government to implement those recommendations over the next four years,” Mr Walker said. “However, there is no option of ‘rejecting’ recommendations. Consequently, those recommendations which the government ‘notes’ are still relevant to the extent that the Government might decide at a later to support them.”
He added that regardless of the outcome, the OHCHR is still willing to work with the government on the issue of human rights in Cambodia.
“In the meantime, OHCHR reiterates its willingness to work with the Government and other stakeholders to support implementation of the UPR recommendations,” Mr Walker said.