Tuesday, 15 February 2011

UN human rights envoy arrives on fourth trip to Cambodia


via CAAI

Feb 15, 2011

Phnom Penh - The United Nations' human rights envoy to Cambodia arrived in Phnom Penh Tuesday on a 10-day trip to assess how effectively the parliament upholds human rights.

Surya Subedi said he would 'study the work of the parliament in the context of my ongoing assessment of institutions critical to the promotion and protection of human rights.'

The envoy is scheduled to meet with government officials, parliamentarians, civil society representatives and donors during his stay.

Subedi said he would also examine how much effort the government had put into his previous recommendations, among them improving the functioning of the judiciary.

At the close of his third visit in June, Subedi said the judiciary faced 'tremendous challenges in delivering justice for the people of the country, especially the poor and marginalized.'

He said some judges were simply not interested in upholding the law.

Subedi was also scheduled to assess the government's steps to decriminalize defamation.

In recent years rights groups have criticized the government's growing use of defamation lawsuits to muzzle its perceived critics in politics and civil society.

During his last visit, Subedi said the practice was disproportionate and had narrowed the space for public discourse.

Among the other topics expected to come up for discussion were a controversial draft law designed to regulate civil society, and the ongoing scourge of land-grabbing and evictions.

Phnom Penh has long had a rocky relationship with human rights groups.

Last year Prime Minister Hun Sen said he wanted the UN human rights office in Cambodia to close, and its country head, Christophe Peschoux, fired. A senior government minister described Peschoux as a 'mouthpiece for the opposition.'

A native of Nepal and a Britain-trained lawyer, Subedi is mandated by the UN Human Rights Council to report on human rights in Cambodia. He submitted his last report to the body in September.

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