Cambodia: UN rights expert voices concerns over freedom of expression

29 September 2010
Surya Prasad Subedi, Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Cambodia

Defamation laws are being used disproportionately in Cambodia against journalists, activists and politicians, an independent United Nations human rights expert said today, warning against a narrowing of the political space in the South-East Asian country.

Surya P. Subedi, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia, also voiced concern about issues related to land and housing rights and the narrowing of political space for members of the opposition.

“There has been a disproportionate use of the law regarding defamation and disinformation against journalists, human rights activists and political leaders,” said Surya P. Subedi, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia.

Presenting his report to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council, Mr. Subedi acknowledged that Cambodia has made important advances in recent years in strengthening human rights, including the enactment of major new laws.

At the same time, he noted that “Cambodia remains a complex country in terms of the protection and promotion of human rights, as democratization has not yet fully taken root.”

The major areas of concern are those relating to access to land and housing rights, freedom of expression, and the challenges faced by the judiciary, he said, adding that they continue to dominate the legal and political landscape in Cambodia.

The expert recommended a series of measures to strengthen the independence and capacity of the judiciary and the overall human rights situation.

Mr. Subedi also voiced his concern about the narrowing of political space in Cambodia for those belonging to the opposition parties and other political activists, noting the conviction of the leader of the opposition, Sam Rainsy, since the submission of his report to the Council.

He hoped that the conviction will be subject to appeal and urged that this be conducted with the utmost attention to due process and principles of fair trial.

 

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