Cambodia and the Rule of Law: UN Statement

The ICJ today highlighted a sharp deterioration in the situation for human rights and the rule of law, in a statement to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The statement was delivered during the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia, and read as follows:

“The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) welcomes the report of the Special Rapporteur (UN Doc A/HRC/36/61) and strongly supports the renewal of her mandate.

Monitoring and action by the international community has seldom been more important for Cambodia since the Paris Peace Accords were signed in 1991.

Civil society, independent media and the political opposition are under sustained attack in what appears to be a carefully orchestrated effort to silence dissenting voices in the lead up to national elections in July 2018. Vague legal provisions in for instance the Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations (LANGO) and the Law on Political Parties, are being weaponized to this end.

Human rights defenders and others, including the “ADHOC 4”, Ny Chakrya, Tep Vanny, Hun Vannak, Doem Kundy, and the President of the opposition party, Kem Sokha, face criminal charges with all the hallmarks of being politically motivated.

Prosecutors and judges lack independence and impartiality, and investigations routinely fall short of international standards, as in the case of the killing of political commentator Kem Ley.

Seeking to justify its actions, Cambodia frequently invokes the principle of the rule of law.

The ICJ, a global organisation of judges and lawyers, has worked for the rule of law for more than sixty years. The rule of law does not simply mean that laws exist and are enforced, but requires among other things: equal application of the law without discrimination, including due to political or other opinion, and ensuring that laws are only adopted and applied consistent with international human rights law.

What is happening in Cambodia today has nothing to do with the rule of law.

The ICJ would therefore ask the Special Rapporteur what further recommendations she has towards seeing the rule of law, as properly understood, truly reign in Cambodia.”


The Human Rights Council is expected to adopt a new resolution on Cambodia later this week. The ICJ and other non-governmental organisations have called for it to include additional monitoring and additional opportunities to discussion the situation at the Human Rights Council, before national elections scheduled for July 2018.

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