Statement at the 51st Session of the UN Human Rights Council
Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on human rights in Cambodia
Delivered by Lisa Majumdar
Thank you, Mr President, and thank you Special Rapporteur for your report.
In the face of ongoing reporting by the Special Rapporteur, the Cambodian government has shown no political will to undertake democratic or civic space reforms.
Cambodian human rights defenders and activists continue to face repression and persecution. Highly politicised courts mean that those arbitrarily detained and charged are often held for prolonged periods in pretrial detention and have no chance of getting a fair trial. The ongoing harassment of the Nagaworld workers union and attacks on press freedom is extremely worrying.
The criminalisation of the opposition in the last five years and recent efforts to harass and undermine new political parties during the commune elections are precursors of what the Cambodian people can expect from their national elections next year.
If the international community wants to see a free and fair elections in Cambodia it must step up efforts to address these violations.
We call on the Council to take note of the benchmarks set out in the Special Rapporteur’s report, particularly those relating to the opening up of civic and political space and ceasing the persecution of human rights defenders, specifically:
- Release detained human rights defenders and political dissidents and drop the charges against them
- Desist from applying and reform draconian laws including the Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations (LANGO)
- Restore and re-enfranchise a variety of political parties, and ensure free and fair elections.
If these benchmarks are not met, the Council must be prepared to take stronger action by way of a stronger monitoring mandate. Failure to do so will see the one-party state entrenched still further in years to come.
Civic space in Cambodia is rated as "Repressed" by the CIVICUS Monitor