A United Nations independent expert today welcomed Cambodia's royal pardon of opposition leader Sam Rainsy which was granted ahead of the elections in the country later this month, saying this represented an important step towards reconciliation.
“I was very pleased to learn that the royal pardon was granted by His Majesty Norodom Sihamoni, the King of Cambodia, at the request of Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen,” the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia, Surya P. Subedi, said.
“I now hope that with this development, the Government will take the necessary action in order to allow Sam Rainsy to play a full part in the national politics of Cambodia.”
Mr. Rainsy, the leader of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), was tried in absentia in January 2010 on charges of destruction of property and racial incitement and sentenced to two years' imprisonment in one case and 10 years' imprisonment in another, and had remained in exile.
Mr. Subedi had previously stressed the importance of a level playing field for all political parties to compete on an equal footing, and had called for a solution to allow Mr. Rainsy to play a full role in Cambodian politics.
“Today I applaud the Royal Government of Cambodia for having taken this important step towards reconciliation, which is in the interests of stronger and deeper democratization of Cambodia,” he added.
Special rapporteurs are appointed by the UN 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.