Cambodia Mission Questions OHCHR Selective and Unbalanced Quotes Taken out of Context

AKP Phnom Penh, October 01, 2020 —

The Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Cambodia to the UN at Geneva yesterday noted with great disappointment the recent posting on social media by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Phnom Penh as to unbalanced and selective quotes taken out of context from the entire report of the Secretary General (UNSG) on intimidation and reprisal against those cooperating with the UN and its human rights mechanism.

According to a statement AKP received this morning, the UNSG’s text extensively relies upon one-sided and unverified narrative of the Country Special Rapporteur. Cambodian government always takes any claim brought before it with due diligence, evidenced through its timely clarifications to UN Secretary General, which were integrated into Annex I (paragraph 19, page 23) of the said report. In this regard, the Office’s sincerity and motivation should be questioned when its online quotes were taken out of context, discarding the government’s responses herein. This act will undermine credibility, integrity and independence of this UN entity.

The assertion that those cooperating with the UN human rights mechanism are intimidated or retaliated is an exaggeration. There is no shortage of instances that representatives of Cambodian CSOs physically attend meetings of treaty body in Geneva. Many others have submitted their list of issues to the treaty mechanism for consideration. After all, they are still carrying out their activities in line with the law without any harassment or reprisal.

Like other countries, presence of police officers in the vicinity of various events should not be construed as a threat, intimidation or disruption. They simply fulfill their duty to prevent any arising chaos or insecurity. They have been well instructed to be in strict adherence to the essence of the guidelines laid down by the Ministry of Interior with regard to all lawful activities of the CSOs.

As to the confidential interview with detainees, Cambodia’s Prison Law authorises defence lawyers and National Mechanism for Prevention Against Torture to hold such a conversation. The same holds true for the UN Sub Committee for Prevention against Torture. However, the Special Rapporteur does not fall into either category.

Finally, the Permanent Mission of Cambodia renews the government’s commitment to addressing any arising challenges of the CSOs through prevailing national and sub-national mechanisms, including the regular partnership forum.

By Heng Panha