United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called on Cambodia’s Government to continue to cooperate with UN human rights officials in the Asian country, expressing concern at reported remarks that Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen had denounced them.
In a statement issued by his spokesman, the Secretary-General highlighted that the mandates of the Special Representative for human rights in Cambodia, Yash Ghai, and the human rights office in the country were established by the international community to monitor respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.
“These mandates have been renewed in full consultation with the Cambodian authorities. This is in recognition both of the continuing need for this essential work in Cambodia and of the contributions made by the different Special Representatives, who have carried out their duties with independence, integrity and expertise, as well as the Office of the High Commissioner.
“The Secretary-General trusts the Cambodian authorities will continue to offer their cooperation to the Special Representative and to the Cambodia Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights,” the statement concluded.
Mr. Annan’s comments echoed those made earlier in the day by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour who also pointed out that over the years the different Special Representatives and human rights officials working in Cambodia had been mandated “to cooperate with the Government and civil society in order to ensure that the standards accepted by the Government are observed.”
In January, Ms. Arbour expressed “deep regret” over the Government’s arrest of two more human rights activists and warned that this trend threatened to undo efforts to build a just society in Cambodia.
A month earlier, Mr. Ghai met with representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) who complained of the constraints they face in the performance of their duties, including increasing restrictions on their freedom of expression.