UN human rights office 'deeply worried' about situation in Cambodia

6 September 2016

Expressing concern over recent incidents of intimidation of opposition politicians and their supporters, civil society, and peaceful demonstrators in Cambodia, the United Nations human rights arm has called on the authorities there to create an environment that is conducive to the enjoyment of human rights.

Expressing concern over recent incidents of intimidation of opposition politicians and their supporters, civil society, and peaceful demonstrators in Cambodia, the United Nations human rights arm has called on the authorities to create an environment that is conducive the enjoyment of human rights.

“An increase in rhetoric by high-level army officials, who have vowed to defend the ruling party against political opposition, is deeply worrying,” Ravina Shamdasani, a spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), said at a regular press briefing in Geneva today, referring to a strong show of force recently conducted by the country's armed forces at the headquarters of the main opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP).

“We remind the Government of its duty to take measures to ensure the safety of all Cambodians, particularly high profile political opponents,” she added.

The UN Spokesperson also said that the Government has invoked concerns about public security to block peaceful protests and to arrest and charge demonstrators, and that, yesterday, the authorities set up roadblocks and mobilized troops in an attempt to block a CNRP event and arrested some 20 people in connection with two unrelated protests in the capital Phnom Penh.

“We urge the Government to create an environment conducive to the enjoyment of freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, which are particularly critical in a pre-electoral context,” added Ms. Shamdasani, referring to the local and national elections to be held in 2017 and 2018.

Additionally, referring to a number of legal charges brought against CNRP's Acting President, Kem Sokha and 29 other members or supporters of the party, fourteen of them have been convicted and given heavy prison sentences, she urged the authorities to strictly adhere to international fair trial standards during the criminal proceedings, including ensuring transparency in the administration of justice.

 

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