Cambodia’s permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva yesterday slammed an allegation from the EU, UK, France and Australia that the Kingdom has “shrunk the space for freedom of expression”.
His statement, which was sent to Khmer Times, came as Prime Minister Hun Sen and a delegation departed for Geneva to attend the Aid for Trade Global Review 2019 meeting to be held from today till Friday.
In his statement, Ney Sam Ol, Cambodia’s ambassador and permanent representative to the UN in Geneva, said the UN representatives from those countries are likening progress made on the human rights situation in the Kingdom as being “a glass half empty rather than a glass half full”, noting that they are also presuming the country as being guilty until proven innocent.
He said western countries request Cambodia to strengthen democracy, human rights and rule of law but when the authorities enforce the law they accuse Cambodia of restricting the right to freedom of expression.
“Even worse, they are using human rights as a hostage when it comes to economic preferential treatment extended to Cambodia,” Mr Sam Ol said.
He noted that rights are contingent under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which also requires individuals to exercise these rights responsibly.
Mr Sam Ol said as a responsible member of the UN, Cambodia has regularly contributed to numerous UN peacekeeping and humanitarian actions in many countries. He said Cambodia in return also needs aid and assistance including the Everything-but-arms trade scheme.
“But like other states, Cambodia’s sovereignty cannot be compromised when it comes to such aid and assistance. Aid cannot be taken as a hostage at the expense of sovereignty,” he noted. “If the heat is too hot to withstand, we will get out of the kitchen.”
Mr Hun Sen is attending the meeting in Geneva at the invitation of Roberto Azevecto, director-general of the World Trade Organisation.
Mr Hun Sen is expected to highlight the progress of human rights and democracy in the Kingdom during his trip to Geneva.
On his Facebook page yesterday, Mr Hun Sen thanked supporters who are waiting to welcome him in Switzerland.
“I will announce the official launch of ‘Cambodia’s Trade Integration Strategy 2019-2023’ and deliver a speech at the UN’s 41st Regular Session of the Human Rights Council,” he said. “I wish to thank all Cambodian people in Europe who are waiting to welcome me in Geneva and wish all of you happiness and good luck.”