Cambodia: the Council must address human rights and political crisis

Statement at 48th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

Item 10: Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Cambodia

Delivered by Lisa Majumdar

Thank you, Madame President, and thank you Special Rapporteur. The shrinking civic space and political monopolisation raised in the report has entrenched Cambodia into a de facto one-party state.

Repressive laws are routinely misused to restrict civic freedoms, undermine and weaken civil society, and criminalize individuals for exercising their rights to freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of peaceful assembly. Human rights defenders, trade unionists, youth activists and journalists and other critical voices are routinely subject to judicial harassment and increasing online surveillance. Environmental activists from Mother Nature Cambodia, along with political activists, have been particularly targeted. Highly politicized courts mean that those arbitrarily detained and charged are often held for prolonged periods in pre-trial detention and have no chance of getting a fair trial.

These concerns have escalated over the past two years. The COVID-19 pandemic and the government’s repressive response have exacerbated restrictions on fundamental freedoms.

The main opposition party was dissolved in 2017 and its politicians remain barred from politics. Communal and national elections, set for 2022 and 2023 respectively, are likely to take place under a political climate severely unconducive to being free or fair.

The fragile veneer of democracy engendered by the Paris Peace Accords has disintegrated past the point of no return in recent years. Those calling for human rights on the ground can no longer afford for the Council to treat the situation as business-as-usual. The Council must take meaningful action now to address the ongoing human rights and political crisis in Cambodia.

Special Rapporteur, given that the Cambodian government has indicated no political will towards democratic or human rights reform, what action must the Council and member states take to protect civic space and contribute to concrete human rights progress on the ground?

We thank you.


Civic space in Cambodia is rated as "repressed" by the CIVICUS Monitor

 

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