News / Asia

UN Rights Envoy Sees Mixed Results After Visit to Cambodia

UN special rapporteur Surya Subedi walks through a Cambodian national flag upon his arrival in a conference room at the UN headquarter in Phnom Penh (file photo, 2010)
UN special rapporteur Surya Subedi walks through a Cambodian national flag upon his arrival in a conference room at the UN headquarter in Phnom Penh (file photo, 2010)

Multimedia

Audio
Robert Carmichael

The United Nations Special Rapporteur for human rights wrapped up his fourth visit to Cambodia on Thursday saying significant issues remained unresolved.

Surya Subedi said his fourth visit to Cambodia had produced a mixed bag of results, with limited government cooperation on measures for judicial reform that he had recommended after his last trip here in June.

On Thursday Subedi highlighted freedom of expression and land rights as key ongoing issues.

Phnom Penh has for several years pursued its perceived critics through the courts, with some people jailed or forced overseas to avoid prison sentences handed down by a compliant judiciary.

Subedi said there were still significant problems with freedom of expression, and spoke of his concerns that the space to express criticism was narrowing.

He said the peaceful expression of opinion should not be dealt with under the criminal code.

“Those holding public positions should be willing to accept criticism for their decisions. Criticism is not a crime, but an exercise of freedom of conscience, and an act of intelligence,” said Subedi.

Subedi was in Cambodia on a 10-day visit to assess how effectively parliament upholds human rights. He will report on that aspect later this year.

During his stay he met senior government officials, including Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The UN special rapporteur for human rights also spoke with donors, representatives from civil society, members of the political opposition and ordinary Cambodians.

On the subject of land rights, Subedi said the government needed to ensure improvements were made.

Tens of thousands of mainly poor Cambodians have been thrown off their land in recent years as the rich and powerful have exploited their position to grab the increasingly valuable resource.

Subedi did praise an ongoing effort by the government to improve the framework around which land is dealt with, but said the problem in Cambodia was typically not a lack of laws.

“The challenge in Cambodia as far as I’m concerned is more a matter of the implementation of the existing laws than not having some laws in place in the first place,” he added.

After Subedi completed his third visit in June, he drafted a series of recommendations to reform the judiciary. He had found that it faced what he called “tremendous challenges” in delivering justice for ordinary Cambodians.

He said Thursday that he was encouraged by the government’s acknowledgment of problems with the judiciary, and its agreement that those needed to be addressed.

But Subedi implied Phnom Penh had largely failed to do much to improve the judicial system, telling the media he would have preferred better cooperation from the government in implementing his recommendations.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan told VOA that Phnom Penh acknowledged the judiciary was inadequate, but said improvements took time.

Among the changes already underway, Phay Siphan said, are moves to improve the skills of existing prosecutors and efforts to boost training for new judicial staff.

Subedi is scheduled to leave Cambodia on Friday.

You May Like

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid