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Special Rapporteur voices concern over freedom of expression

Ry Sochan / Khmer Times Share:
The Ministry of Justice attends a meeting with Rhona Smith, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia. Ministry of Justice

The Cambodian Human Rights Committee (CHRC) has said it will consider concerns voiced by United Nations Special Rapporteur Rhona Smith over peaceful assembly to promote human rights in the Kingdom.

A CHRC statement said that after a meeting via video conference between CHRC president Keo Remy and Smith, she expressed concerns over restrictions on freedom of expression in Cambodia.

“CHRC and other relevant authorities will take into consideration the concerns voiced and continue to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur to improve the human rights situation in Cambodia,” said the statement.

However, it added that she did not support any assembly which violates the law and rights of others or causes racial discrimination, violence and unrest which affects public order and social security.

According to the statement, the meeting was held before Smith spoke at the UN Human rights Council in October which was attended by officials from the ministires  of Interior, Foreign Affairs, Justice, Information and Health, who provided her with information.

Justice Ministry spokesman Chin Malin told Khmer Times yesterday that he had explained to Smith that incidents happening in the past were not a restriction on freedom, but instead were legal measures taken to prevent illegal protests, which pose a risk to public order and national security.

“To improve human rights, the government has increased its understanding of the people and all measures taken have been in line with their human rights,” he said. “However, the government must take a firm stance on those who violate the law.”

Democratic Institute president Pa Chanroeun told Khmer Times yesterday that freedom of expression and assembly has not improved yet and is still restricted by the government.

He urged the government for more transparency and accountability.

Interior Minister Sar Kheng on August 13 called on authorities to avoid using violence against peaceful protesters, warning it is not a solution and will only cause global criticism.

He said authorities should fulfill the needs of the people because government officials are the servants of the people.

The statement said Smith also expressed concerns about overcrowding in prisons, especially amid the pandemic.

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