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Cambodian mission demands Special Rapporteur to respect the work and independence of national judicial system

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The Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Cambodia to the United Nations Office and other International Organisations at Geneva insisted that the Special Rapporteur respect the work and independence of national judicial system.

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The following is the full press statement of the Cambodian Permanent Mission dated Nov. 25:

“The Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Cambodia in Geneva deplores the news release dated 25 November 2020 by Professor Rhona Smith, Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Cambodia, as to the application of domestic laws and trials in the Kingdom.

The personal view of the so-called expert, who is not the UN staff member, is fraught with selectivity and distortion with disregard of facts. There is no shortage of instances that those associated with the ruling party were held accountable before the law. This reinforces the truth that an affiliation with a political party or an NGO is not an entitlement for a person to break the law with impunity. It is the court’s jurisdiction in determining and proceeding with the charges in light of legal and factual basis.

The premise that the hearings of certain individuals are politically motivated and form an intimidation strategy against dissenting voices is an exaggeration and indicative of utter contempt for the independent judiciary of a sovereign state. The offenses of “attack” and “incitement to commit felony” are evidently prescribed in articles 451 and 495 of Cambodia’s Penal Code, which was crafted with the help of Western law experts.

The defendants have full opportunity to be heard, including the right to counsel, to disprove the charges against them and to present their arguments in court as part of the rights to due process guaranteed under the Constitution. They were even afforded pro-bono lawyers, but they preferred the ones of their choosing.

The judicial proceedings against the accused are strictly based on the crimes duly alleged, and do not entail in any way to the exercise of the freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. To tag law enforcement as repression of rights and freedoms is to denigrate the rule of law and equal application to all citizens as warranted by the Constitution.

The Permanent Mission of Cambodia insists that the Special Rapporteur respect the work and independence of the national judicial system, among others, by not prejudging or influencing the outcome of cases involving individuals still awaiting trials. Such cautious and due diligence together with strict adherence to the Code of Conduct and Manual of Operations of the Special Procedure Mandate Holders, which underline the importance of observing national legislations and the UN Charter, enables states in general and Cambodia in particular to maintain the trust and genuine cooperation with the Special Rapporteur.” C. Nika – AKP

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