A Japanese foreign affairs delegation yesterday met with the Cambodia Human Rights Committee to continue work on a draft report on the human rights situation in Cambodia to be submitted to the UN in September.
Masato Otaka, a deputy assistant with the Japanese Foreign Affairs Ministry, met with CHRC head Keo Remy to discuss the report, which will touch on recent political party law amendments, the NGO law and also National Election Committee reforms.
“It took a long time to explain things to each other in order to make sure Japan understands the situation before evaluating and drafting the report,” Mr Remy said. “We want the report to be balanced.”
Mr Remy said that Mr Otaka recommended Cambodia hold further meetings with all relevant parties related to the NGO and political party laws.
“He has demanded the government to do more explanation to people, political parties and civil organizations to understand the purpose of the laws,” he said.
“Related to our amendments of the political parties law and NGO law, they were thoroughly researched by the government and followed models from other countries in the world,” Mr. Remy added.
The political party law amendments ban convicts from taking positions within a party, and also bans parties from working with convicts to disseminate information to the public.
The NGO law amendments require reports to be made to the government on organizations’ activities, including finances.
Pen Bonnar, a senior investigator for rights group Adhoc, said that he hopes Japan can urge the government to improve its human rights record.
“Japan has influence on the government because it provides a lot of aid to the country,” he said. “People are afraid to express their opinions right now and that needs to change.”