Cambodia Reminds OHCHR to Respect Sovereignty and Domestic Jurisdiction of States in Delivering Its Mandate

AKP Phnom Penh, September 12, 2020 —

“OHCHR is under obligation to respect sovereignty and domestic jurisdiction of states in delivering its mandate,” the Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Cambodia to the United Nations Office and other International Organizations at Geneva reminds in a press statement dated Sept. 11.

The Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Cambodia in Geneva squarely rejects a misleading and fallacious conclusion of Ms. Ravina Shamdasani, Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, as to the Kingdom’s application of relevant laws seeking to shield law-abiding citizens and to guarantee peace, social order and public health for everyone, it said.

“It is generally understood that exercise of freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly carries with it special duties, responsibilities and limitations provided by laws, as stipulated in article 29 (2) of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights as well as articles 19 (3), 21 and 22 (2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Likewise, article 31 of the Constitution of Cambodia emphasises that the exercise of such rights and freedom shall be in accordance with the law. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to promote the public awareness of the said obligations in its narratives,” the statement underlined.

It appears that Madam spokesperson has intentionally pushed aside verifiable details from and dialogues with the state when assessing the human rights situation, it said, adding that such a methodology runs counter to the guiding principles of impartiality, objectivity and non-selectivity in the consideration of human rights.

“The assertion that the government primarily targets human rights activists and NGOs is both unfounded and selective. Cambodia does not condone an arbitrary arrest. Law enforcers with misconduct and abuse of the law are subject to disciplinary actions with several instances having unfolded. Moreover, all lawful NGOs and human rights defenders carrying out their assignment in observance of the law are operating freely and empowered to partake in the national development. Only law-breaking ones are disbanded,” it stressed.

According to the press statement, to tag law enforcement as repression of rights and freedoms is to denigrate the rule of law and equal application to all citizens as warranted by the Constitution. An affiliation with a political party or a purported rights and environment entity does not entitle a person to break the law with impunity. A law-prescribed crime is a crime, and it cannot be justified for any aspiration. Those in conflict with the law have full opportunity to be heard, disprove the charges against them and present their arguments in court as part of the rights to due process guaranteed under the Constitution.

The call for extrajudicial release of certain particular detainees has overstepped the boundary of the founding-OHCHR Resolution (A/RES/48/141) of December 20, 1993, which places the OHCHR to function within the framework of the UN Charter and under the obligation to respect sovereignty and domestic jurisdiction of states, it continued.

“While Cambodian government has extended active engagement and open cooperation to the OHCHR for almost three decades, the Permanent Mission of Cambodia strongly urges Madam Spokesperson to value genuine communications with the state for verified accounts, rather than over-reliance on the traditional sources of information, before resorting to any public statements, which could mislead the public opinions and be construed as meddling in judicial system of a sovereign state. This is of equal importance if she is to maintain the credibility, objectivity and independence of this UN entity on human rights,” concluded the statement.

By C. Nika