As Cambodians prepare to go to the polls this Sunday, a United Nations independent expert has reiterated his call for free, fair and peaceful election that is underpinned by respect for human rights before, during and after polling day.
“Free political environment and the ability of the people to exercise their rights and freedoms, such as the right to vote, freedom of expression and assembly and the right to stand for election are the key to free and fair elections,” said Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia, Surya P. Subedi.
Approximately 9.7 million Cambodians are reportedly eligible to cast their votes to elect representatives for the country's 123-seat National Assembly.
“I call upon the Government to ensure full respect for its international human rights obligations as the country goes to the polls,” the UN expert said today, urging the people of Cambodia to refrain from violence and have due regard for the rights of other fellow citizens when exercising their own.
“Every eligible voter must be given an equal opportunity to exercise his/her right to vote without intimidation, fear or pressure,” Mr. Subedi said.
As such, allegations of intimidation must be promptly investigated by the National Election Committee (NEC), and if appropriate, remedied.
He added that the right to vote is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and is intricately linked to the right to participate in the political, economic and social life of one’s country.
The UN expert also noted that the election could mark a “milestone” in Cambodia’s growth towards an inclusive, just, equitable and free society, and what is at stake is not just the credibility of the election but the future governors of the Kingdom.
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.