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

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid