With rebuke raining down on the ruling CPP for its judicial assault, arrests and intimidation of the political opposition and other critics, Cambodia’s annual assessment by the U.N. Human Rights Council will be held next week in Geneva.
During the 33rd council session, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights will report on Tuesday about its work in Cambodia and open discussion about the state of human rights in the country, said Nicolas Agostini, the International Federation for Human Rights’ representative to the U.N.
Rhona Smith speaks at a press conference at the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Phnom Penh last year. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)While routine, the review will “not be business as usual,” he said on Thursday. “There is more attention on Cambodia than usual this year.”
Rhona Smith, the U.N.’s special rapporteur for human rights in Cambodia, is expected to “analyze and condemn the ongoing crackdown on civil society and human rights defenders, harassment of opposition members and supporters, and instances of political violence, as well as formulate recommendations in this regard,” Mr. Agostini said.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the U.N.’s human rights body condemned the “strong show of force” by the military around the CNRP’s Phnom Penh headquarters the previous week, which included helicopters, motorboats and trucks full of masked soldiers.
“This, combined with an increase in rhetoric by high-level army officials, who have vowed to defend the ruling party against political opposition, is deeply worrying,” it said.
The government has banned the “Black Monday” campaign calling for the release of human rights activists, and protests against resulting arrests have only led to more arrests.
Keo Remy, head of the government’s human rights committee, hung up on a reporter on Thursday.
While the CPP has largely denied that its prosecution of opposition leaders is politically motivated, the Foreign Affairs Ministry’s Secretary of State Ouch Borith told diplomats in May that the ruling party had “no choice” but to use the courts to preserve peace in the face of provocation by the CNRP.
retka@cambodiadaily.com
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