The United Nation Human Rights in Cambodia will mark this year’s Human Rights Day by focusing on the leadership roles of youths, which some civil society claim remains restricted.
UN Human Rights in Cambodia, in partnership with the Cambodian Human Rights Committee, the UN Country Team, and the European Union Delegation will organise the event under the theme “Youth standing up for human rights” at the National Olympic Stadium tomorrow.
A UN statement released yesterday said that democracy is about people and their equal public participation which enables the advancement of all human rights.
“It plays a crucial role in the promotion of democracy, the rule of law, social inclusion and economic development,” it said. “It is essential for reducing inequalities and social conflict.”
The statement noted that the participation is central for empowering individuals and groups, and is one of the core elements of the human rights-based approach aimed at eliminating marginalisation and discrimination.
Toem Malai, Cambodia Youth Network president, yesterday said that the celebration of Human Rights Day will provide opportunity for youths to participate in the development of society, but there still remain restrictions on the activities of some of them.
“We have seen there still remain restrictions on activities by youths, especially by politicians,” he said, noting that youths from the ruling CPP have full freedom to carry out programmes while those who promote social justice and human rights protection do not.
Soeng Senkaruna, spokesman at human rights group Adhoc, yesterday said he is concerned that some youths do not participate in efforts to develop society because they are either involved with drugs or too busy spending their time on leisure activities.
“Youths have to pay attention to issues affecting society and some have acted to help protect natural resources and promote social justice,” he said.
He noted that youths working on protecting resources and social justice issues, such as promoting the right to expression, face challenges and threats from authorities.
Chin Malin, spokesman for Cambodian Human Rights Committee, yesterday said that he welcomes the theme of this year’s event which is in line with the government’s policy of engaging youths to participate in activities to promote human rights.
“Youths have played an important role in strengthening and promoting human rights in Cambodia,” he noted, adding that the event will create awareness among youth to use their rights correctly and follow the law.
Mr Malin rejected claims of restrictions by civil society groups, saying that those who faced problems had carried out activities which broke the law.
“Some youths misuse the right to freedom of expression by agitating against the government in activities deemed to be promoting democracy,” he noted. “Some were used by politicians to promote their political agenda.”
“So this event is aimed at encouraging youth to fully participate in developing society by exercising their rights correctly,” Mr Malin added.