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Rhona Smith discusses sustainable development goals

Taing Vida / Khmer Times Share:
Ms Smith meets with Foreign Affairs Minister Prak Sokhonn. KT/Siv Channa

The United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Cambodia yesterday urged the government to ensure that sustainable development projects in the Kingdom benefit all people.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Foreign Affairs Minister Prak Sokhonn, UN rights envoy Rhona Smith said she was briefed on the progress made on meeting sustainable development goals and also the progress made on the Kingdom’s latest census.

She noted that it is compulsory for the government to ensure that all people benefit from the country’s sustainable development efforts.

“It’s very important that the ministry ensures that the work with sustainable goals are met and also that in the rapid development of this country, no one is left behind,” Ms Smith said.

She added that Mr Sokhonn was able to explain in detail about work that has been carried out with several stakeholders towards reaching Cambodia’s sustainable development goals.

Ket Sophann, Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman, yesterday told reporters that during the meeting, Mr Sokhonn also updated Ms Smith on the progress of the government’s efforts to strengthen democracy and political space.

“The minister pointed out the speedy development in the country and additional achievements that were not listed in the sustainable development goals,” he said. “The minister also expressed hope that Ms Smith’s report would reflect the reality of development in Cambodia.”

Referring to a government statement dated December 3, Mr Sophann said Mr Sokhonn informed Ms Smith that former CNRP leader Kem Sokha was released on bail while dozens of political, land and labour activists received pardons and were freed from jail.

“Since then, the government has established special groups dealing with land conflicts and concerns from the people,” he said, adding that the government has also taken steps to regain the confidence of NGOs by holding public forums to discuss and address their concerns and challenges.

Mr Sophann said the minister also stressed to Ms Smith that the closure of Radio Free Asia and Voice of America’s representative offices was self-initiated and the two radio stations are free to reopen their offices in Cambodia so long as they follow the law.

Ms Smith yesterday also met with various representatives of the Health, Planning, and Land Management ministries and said the discussions were about their progress and issues in their fields.

During a meeting with Health Minister Mam Bunheng, Ms Smith said they discussed issues such as the involvement of the ministry in drug rehabilitation services, equal access to health services without discrimination, and the authorities’ efforts to combat counterfeit and substandard medicine.

Or Vandine, Health Ministry spokeswoman, said the minister briefed Ms Smith on the progress of public health service, adding that more than 1,000 public health centres and 400 drug rehabilitation centres are operating actively across the country.

“He told Ms Smith that the ministry has put in a lot of effort to offer treatment for those who were addicted to drugs by providing free medical services without discrimination,” she said. “Drug addicts could receive consultations from specialized doctors and their discussions are confidential.”

“If any Health Ministry official shows disrespect or demands money from patients, the ministry will take action,” Ms Vandine noted.

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