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Govt Spokesperson: Cambodia Does Not Work to Satisfy the Special Rapporteur

PHNOM PENH: The Chairman of the Royal Government Spokesperson's Unit, Phay Siphan, stated that Cambodia is an independent, sovereign state and all work is done for the benefit of the nation and the people, not to change or follow the wishes of the UN Special Rapporteur who pays a visit once a year.

Speaking at the end of a press conference on Thursday morning, 1 September, the head of the Royal Government Spokespeson’s Unit, Phay Siphan, said that Cambodia is a sovereign country, so even though the UN Special Rapporteur came as a working partner of Cambodia, he does not hold the status of commander in chief.

"He came as a partner to review [the situation] and his remarks were worrying," he said. "For me, I always tell Ajazeera, the BBC or the Washington Post that their concerns stem from not understanding the actual situation of Cambodia. Therefore, these concerns are not for the direction of law-making, it is not the for the direction of the management of public order. These concerns are not an obstacle to Cambodia’s efforts to build a democratic society."

UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia, Professor Vitit Muntarbhorn, concluded his visit to the Kingdom last week, and held a press conference on Friday stating that he had met with human rights defenders, environmentalists, media professionals and many other stakeholders who have voiced their concerns that freedom, civil society and politics are shrinking in Cambodia.

He also called on the Cambodian government to repeal the criminal sanctions stated in the Telecommunications Law and the sub-decree on the establishment of internet ports, which violates privacy rights.

Regarding this case, the Spokesperson of the Ministry of Information, Meas Sophorn, stated that the purpose of this law is to collect taxes and fight against technological crimes, not to encroach on the private affairs of citizens. He stated that it is to protect the interests of the nation and people only, and added that he believes the Special Rapporteur’s expressed views were unfair.

"There are different standards in assessing countries, they make criminal laws on technology, other laws, but we have never heard any expressions of concern about these matters," he said. "But for Cambodia, when we set out legal documents to serve the interests of the people, the interests of our society, we always get anxious."

He stated that the Ministry of Information, an institution of the Royal Government, wants to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur in a fully honest way, to ensure that balanced reports are written.

It should also be noted that after Professor Vitit Muntarbhorn held a press conference to present the results of his visit on Friday, the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs also issued a press release expressing disappointment and calling the UN Expert’s statement biased, discriminatory and without clear basis on a number of issues. 


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