Cambodia’s permanent representative to the UN on Tuesday told the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights not to prioritise the views of some groups over others when evaluating the Kingdom’s human rights record.
Ney Sam Ol’s statement came after opening remarks by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet at the 42nd session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, when she voiced her concerns over the government’s action on members and supporters of the former opposition CNRP.
“Since the start of this year, police or the courts have questioned over 130 people, and at least 22 opposition members or supporters are currently in detention, on a range of criminal charges, or convictions, either directly or indirectly related to their political opinion,” Ms Bachelet had said. “The right to development needs to rest on participation by everyone in decision-making – including people who offer critical views; and I encourage the government to take steps to ensure genuine dialogue and respect for fundamental freedoms.”
In his statement obtained yesterday, Mr Sam Ol told the meeting that while the Cambodian delegation commends the OHCHR’s work in promoting dialogue and cooperation to advance human rights, it should not focus only on the views of a particular group over others and disregard realities on the ground.
“We are of the view that giving particular attention to particular groups over others to reprimand Cambodia over its human rights undermines the principle of objectivity of the OHCHR,” he said.
Mr Sam Ol said that human rights, democracy and rule of law in the Kingdom should be evaluated via a holistic approach rather than through particular cases.
“You will not get the real taste of the issue if you give priority to one single tree instead of thoroughly examining the whole forest, and try to link it with your own selective agenda,” he noted.
Mr Sam Ol also urged the OHCHR to deliver its mandate, through impartial, objective, and non-selective methods and to adhere to the principle of the Charter of the United Nations.
Am Sam Ath, deputy director of monitoring at rights group Licadho, yesterday said concerns made by the OHCHR were based on reports and findings provided by relevant stakeholders.
“The government should not reject all recommendations made by the international community, especially in relation to human rights violations,” he said. “It’s important to address the problems in order to improve the country’s rights record and development.”
In July, Prime Minister Hun Sen told delegates at the 41st session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva that Cambodia’s human rights situation has been “painted black” for what he called “political tools.”
He said Cambodia has made positive progress in improving human rights and democracy since 1997 but none of the Western countries have acknowledged this.