The government has decided to accept 173 out of 198 recommendations made by 73 UN member states during the Kingdom’s third Universal Period Review.
However, it did not accept recommendations regarding the reinstatement of the former opposition CNRP.
In January, the United States, France and the United Kingdom said the government should reinstate the CNRP, while Japan said Cambodia had to focus on improving political inclusion and reforming its judicial system. China, on the other hand, said the international community must respect the will of the Cambodian people.
A total of 198 recommendations were made, covering various aspects of human rights issues in the Kingdom, including political space, public assembly and the freedom of NGOs. The recommendations were officially adopted by the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva last week.
On Saturday, the government said in a statement that 25 recommendations related to the CNRP were not accepted because they were politically motivated.
“[We] officially accepted 173, while noting 25 among 198 recommendations submitted by 73 UN member states during the UPR,” the statement said. “The acceptance of 173 recommendations was made because these recommendations were consistent with the will and policy of the government’s reform programme on the protection and promotion of the rights of people.”
“For the 25 recommendations, we only just noted these because these recommendations did not reflect the efforts of the Royal Government and did not respond to the reality of freedom in Cambodia,” it added. “It is because these recommendations oppose our legal framework, such as the constitution, and other existing legal norms in Cambodia.”
Chin Malin, vice president of the Cambodia Human Rights Committee, on Friday said during a UPR meeting in Geneva that the government had considered all recommendations made.
Mr Malin noted that Cambodia will adopt and implement the 173 recommendations because they were in line with the government’s policy on human rights.
“We will take all appropriate measures based on our ways, means and available resources to implement them in order to better promote, protect and respect the rights of Cambodian citizens, [which] have been tremendously improved during the past years – of which we are proud,” he said. “This high acceptance of recommendations also further reflects the strong commitment and seriousness the government has made and continues to make toward the promotion and protection of human rights.”
His statement followed criticism by Rhona Smith, UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Cambodia, and David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights to Freedom of Opinion and Expression.
On June 19, Ms Smith and Mr Kaye called on the government to focus on changing the political culture to one of dialogue that focuses on issues rather than people, meaning the government should focus on issues related to policy rather than target its critics.
The call was made as they highlighted the questioning of more than 100 former opposition members and supporters by the courts.
“According to information received, more than 140 members of the former CNRP have been questioned by the authorities, summoned or detained in relation to attendance at gatherings and comments made in support of […] former [CNRP] leaders Kem Sokha and Sam Rainsy,” they said.
Mr Malin said on Friday that the UN Special Rapporteurs’ statement was regrettable and not a reflection of reality.
“The recent legal action against the members of the former opposition party by local and court authorities is an attempt to enforce the rule of law against violators who tried to exempt themselves from law and justice on the ground,” Mr Malin said.
“We take note of all the statements and concerns raised and hope that it [the UN] will abide by the principles and stop politicising issues,” he added. “Having said this, we would not accept those politically-driven recommendations and statements that are based on biases with complete disregard of facts and our national conditions.”
Human Rights Watch on Friday said Cambodia should accept all recommendations made during the UPR.
“The Cambodian government should reverse course and accept all UPR recommendations related to civil and political rights, including dropping all politically motivated criminal charges, releasing political prisoners, and amending or repealing repressive laws that restrict basic rights. This Council should hold them to account if they fail to do so,” it said.
The Foreign Affairs Ministry on Saturday issued a statement slamming European parliament members for announcing support for the return of Mr Rainsy.
The ministry said that the MPs reportedly announced that they will escort Mr Rainsy during his return to the Kingdom.
“In this regard, the [ministry] registers its utmost dismay over such conduct and categorises the step, if taken, as undiplomatic and disrespectful to the sovereignty and rule of law of the Kingdom of Cambodia,” it said.