Cambodia must move forward with judiciary, land and electoral reforms – UN expert
“Cambodia has come a long way, but that there is still some way to go in promoting and protecting human rights, strengthening good governance, enhancing the independence and capacity of State institutions responsible for upholding people's rights,” said the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia, Surya P. Subedi at the end of his ninth fact-finding mission to the country.
Mr. Subedi noted that progress on judiciary reforms “remains very slow” but was encouraged by the fact that his recommendations to strengthen the parliament's role in protective human rights appear to be under active consideration by the National Assembly and Senate.
Regarding land reform, Mr. Subedi pointed out that two of his recommendations – a moratorium on economic land concessions and more speedy land titling – were moving forward.
The current land titling programme, he said, “is a unique opportunity to address the tenure security of many families, including those excluded from this and previous titling efforts, and those in conflict with more powerful individuals and private sector interests.”
However, he stressed that further implementation of the existing framework on land rights and strengthening of land management institutions is necessary for gains to be sustainable.
Recommendations on electoral reform are also being considered, and Mr. Subedi urged all parties and the National Election Committee to ensure free, fair and peaceful elections in the upcoming national elections in July.
“All sides should play by the rules, demonstrate maturity in debate, and not engage in insulting games. All sides must be able to play on a level playing field,” he said.
The independent expert also expressed concern at the restrictions of freedom of expression in the country, and impunity for a long list of crimes for which no one has been brought to justice. “I urge the Government to expedite its investigation of such cases and bring to justice the perpetrators,” Mr. Subedi said.
During his visit, Mr. Subedi met with Government officials, as well as members of the National Assembly and the judiciary. He is also held meetings with human rights defenders, representatives from civil society organizations and communities as well as the donor community.
Special rapporteurs are appointed by the Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work. Mr. Subedi will present his next report to the Council at its September 2013 session.