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Spokesperson Says US Report on Human Rights in Cambodia Is Biased

PHNOM PENH: A spokesperson for the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed disappointment with the Cambodia 2022 Human Rights Report issued by the US State Department. The ministry claims the report is biased, untrue and politically motivated.

The first of the 39-page report states that past elections were not free and fair and did not represent the will of the people, based on reports from international observers, including foreign governments and national and international NGOs. The report also cites reports that government officials, including police, have committed abuses and corruption with impunity and in most cases the government has taken little or no action. It goes on to say that government officials and their family members generally have immunity from prosecution.

In a press statement released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a spokesperson dismissed the US report as a one-sided compilation of events based on unverified publications of foreign-funded NGOs. The claim that there are "reliable sources" whose credentials are questionable does not make the report credible.

The spokesperson further responded to the allegations against the local elections in June as "seriously flawed", which contradicts the more than 150,000 national and international observers and party agents who characterized the elections as free, fair, peaceful, transparent and democratic. The spokesperson also said that even Switzerland considered the election results a "partial return to pluralism.”

"To label '16 of the 19 non-CPP parties contesting in the 2018 national election were CPP proxies’ gravely infringed upon their political rights, if not an outright insult,” said the statement.

The statement accused the United States of ignoring the dangerous and extremist rhetoric of some opposition groups who spread false information, issue indiscriminate insults and slander, incite violence and racism, and call for sedition-actions which are strongly condemned in the West.

The human rights report failed to mention Cambodia's success in combating Covid-19, social protection programs, increased literacy rates, malaria eradication, reducing maternal and infant mortality rates. The statement also mentions that the country has made advances in judicial reform and taken legal action to resolve congestion in the courts, reduced overcrowding in prisons, and prevented torture.

The spokesperson said the United States, which has been a democracy for more than two hundred years, still faces its own systematic human rights abuses on a daily basis, including: racism, hate crimes, mass killings and police brutality, prisoner abuse, millions of Covid-19 deaths, executions, restrictions on abortion access, and more.

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