PHNOM PENH (Khmer Times) – The new Special Rapporteur on Human Rights for the United Nations in Cambodia, Rhona Smith, will touch down in Cambodia for the first time today and will stay until the 24th. Ms. Smith will examine the human rights situation in here and report her findings to the UN.
Ms. Smith said she hopes to meet with Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng and other senior government officials as well as representatives of NGOs. Ms. Smith has previously evaluated different stages of human rights capacity-building programs in Asia (China, Indonesia, Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Vietnam), the Middle East and Africa.
“I thank the government for this opportunity to visit the country before I report to the UN Human Rights Council later this month,” the independent expert said in a statement.
“In undertaking this mission, I am looking forward to engaging in a constructive dialogue with the Royal Government and people of Cambodia to further promote and protect human rights in the country,” she said.
Ms. Smith was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council in March..She replaces Surya Subedi, whose final mission here was in January. During a press conference that month Mr. Subedi expressed optimism about the effectiveness of his work here, as well as some frustration with the lack of progress made by Cambodia during his tenure.
In response to a series of arrests and convictions of land activists and opposition party members last year, the rights envoy said: “It saddens me to see the courts being used again and again as a tool of the executive.”
“Since I took up this mandate as the Special Rapporteur, I have seen this happen in Cambodia countless times,” he said in November.“The lack of judicial independence is one of the central obstacles to achieving the just, inclusive society that Cambodians strive for. The recent conduct of the courts demonstrates once again the need for an independent judiciary in Cambodia,” he stressed.
“The lack of judicial independence is one of the central obstacles to achieving the just, inclusive society that Cambodians strive for. The recent conduct of the courts demonstrates once again the need for an independent judiciary in Cambodia,” he stressed.
“Those who seek to exercise fundamental freedoms can be arrested, charged and convicted, on little or no material grounds. For such cases, justice in the heavily backlogged judicial system can be remarkably swift,” Mr. Subedi added.