The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia yesterday met with the Cambodian Human Rights Committee, raising concerns after the Social Affairs Minister said protesters against next year’s election results would be beaten with bamboo poles.
Vong Sauth made the comments last week, saying the government had pledged to prevent any demonstration no matter what.
Rhona Smith brought up the issue at a meeting with CHRC chairman Keo Remy ahead of the publication of her latest report on rights in the country.
“In September, I’ll have the opportunity to hear an oral presentation to the council when I formally present the written report,” she said.
Mr Remy said his committee would be ready to respond to Ms Smith’s report, adding that he had reassured her over the comments made by Mr Sauth.
“Mr Sauth just raised that issue because the past experience of government leaders is that some protesters never accept the election results,” Mr Remy said.
“It was not meant to be a threat. The minister is actually a very gentle person.”
Mr Remy also told Ms Smith about the controversial amendment to the Law on Political Parties that recently passed the National Assembly.
“We have set up a mechanism which means all groups must accept the results of the election, or there will be punishment against political parties as stated in the law,” Mr Remy said.
Ms Smith meanwhile raised concerns about the people who have not agreed to leave their homes near the Lower Sesan II Hydropower Dam and are facing floods as a result of tests at the facility.
Mr Remy said Ms Smith had recognised during the meeting that human rights in the country had improved.
“We welcome what Ms Smith raised but asked her to understand the government,” he said.
“The economy is growing, we are reducing poverty and we are promoting human rights as well.”