Cambodia’s Response to Remarks by UK Delegation over Freedom of Expression

AKP Phnom Penh, June 20, 2020 —

Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Cambodia to the UN Office at Geneva H.E. An Sokkhoeurn made a reply to the remarks by the UK delegation over the freedom of expression and democracy in Cambodia, at the General Debate on Technical Assistance and Capacity Building at Human Rights Council’s Resumed 43rd Session in Geneva, on June 19:

“Cambodia notes with deep regret that Agenda Item 10 on Technical Cooperation and Capacity Building has been hijacked for political purposes. Cambodia is placed nowhere in today’s Agenda because the situation of my country will be presented in the 45th Session of this Council in accordance with Resolution (A/HRC/RES/42/37) on Advisory Service and Technical Assistance for Cambodia. Therefore, strict observance of the conference’s agenda is imperative if we are to avoid wasting the Council’s resources,” said H.E. An Sokkhoeurn.

The arrogant act of the UK delegation constitutes a crystal clear manifestation of politicisation in the work of human rights and abuse of this august Council, he continued, stressing that this practice must be refrained and ceased if we are to uphold credibility and effectiveness of this body in promotion and protection of human rights.

“Cambodia cherishes the freedom of expression in line with the laws. Cambodia has a total of more than 1,000 printed and online media, TV and radio stations, some of which are critical of the government, including the Voice of America and Radio Free Asia, broadcast in Khmer without prior censorship. Cambodia is home to more than 8 million user accounts of Facebook, a powerful and popular platform of sharing public opinions freely,” he added.

“Political discourse and commenting on public affairs with insult, hatred, incitement to commit a felony, call for rebellion against a democratically elected government, and spread of fake news and disinformation do not equate freedom of expression. They are well condemned in European countries,” he underlined.

The exercise of the freedom of expression carries with it special duties, responsibilities and limitations provided by laws, as enshrined in Cambodia’s Constitution, Universal Declaration on Human Rights, and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, H.E. An Sokkhoeurn underlined.

“Cambodia attaches great importance to pluralism. A Supreme Consultative Council comprised of the ruling party and 15 non-elected parties was formed in the wake of the democratic elections of 2018. It regularly grills specific ministers on sensitive ministers and independently investigates issues affecting social justice.

By Heng Panha