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PM Advises UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights to Be Neutral in His Reporting

PHNOM PENH: Prime Minister Hun Sen has advised the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights, Professor Vitit Muntarbhorn, to be neutral in his observations and to prepare a balanced report that reflects Cambodia's response to human rights advocacy as well.

On the occasion of Professor Vitit Muntarbhorn’s visit to Cambodia, the UN Special Rapporteur paid a courtesy call to Prime Minister Hun Sen at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh on Tuesday morning, 16 August. During the meeting, the Prime Minister said that Cambodia has always responded to Professor Muntarbhorn's previous reports and encouraged him to base his review of the country on the activities and laws in Cambodia, urging him to conduct balanced reporting.

The Prime Minister’s Assistant, Eang Sophalleth, told reporters after the meeting that Prime Minister Hun Sen said, “What Mr. Vitit Muntarbhorn should consider and do properly is to check that his report is balanced and not one sided, that it maintains confidentiality and with the required level of accountability or transparency."

The Prime Minister also took time to describe to Professor Muntarbhorn the efforts made to support human rights in Cambodia, raising the pension, also providing pensions to workers in the private sector, and moreover, raising money for the protection and rescue of people from Covid-19, which included a national vaccine roll-out and the distribution of crucial information that helps save people’s lives.

He added that during the Covid-19 outbreak the government enacted a number of new laws to ensure stability and protection of citizens, and said that allegations that the law is aimed at civil society spaces are baseless.

Assistant Eang Sophalleth quoted the Prime Minister as saying, "In fact, all the legal standards adopted, including the laws passed during Covid-19, adhere to the principles of legitimacy, necessity and proportion, the sole purpose of which is to save lives, protects citizens who respect the law and prevent crimes that cause social instability."

Regarding civil society spaces, democracy and elections, the Prime Minister said that democracy needs to go hand in hand with the rule of law, and that the practice of democracy without the rule of law will lead to anarchy.

He stated that Cambodia wants all parties in the democratic process to run smoothly, to be constructive, not create racial hatred, and especially not cause animosity among members of the Khmer nation, which could lead to civil war. He said, "Respect for human rights, democracy and peacekeeping are mutually exclusive."

During the meeting, Professor Muntarbhorn congratulated Cambodia on its successful Covid-19 vaccination campaign and inquired about future technical assistance and cooperation with the Special Rapporteur on human rights in Cambodia.

In this regard, Prime Minister Hun Sen requested the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Special Rapporteur to prepare a report that reflects facts and is transparent, while taking care to address mechanisms of action and human rights issues such as hate speech, misinformation and incitement under the banner of freedom of expression.

Professor Vitit Muntarbhorn is the seventh person to be selected by the UN Human Rights Council to be the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Cambodia, replacing the outgoing rapporteur, Rhona Smith. He is visiting Cambodia from 15-26 August and will meet with a number of different stakeholders involved in human rights.


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