Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Cambodia considers forming body to implement UN Convention Against Torture


The Cambodian government is considering to meet the UN requirement for establishing an official organization to implement the UN Convention Against Torture, national media said on Wednesday.

The Cambodian Ministry of Interior and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) had studied the detail of this requirement last week during a special workshop, said English-language newspaper the Phnom Penh Post.

"We believe that torture is still a common crime... occurring in prisons against those accused of doing something wrong," said Jason Barber, consultant to rights group Licadho, while commenting on the proposed initiative, Xinhua reported.

The proposed sub-decree would create a temporary body pending the establishment of a National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) that is consistent with UN's Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT), a legislative process that UN and government officials expect to take up 2 years, said the paper.

Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, said that the proposed NPM could help reduce instances of torture in the country, but only if it is independent and respects the spirit of existing international agreements.

"I think that NPM will improve the investigation process where it is respected," he added.

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