Cambodia: ICJ joins call to renew mandate of Special Rapporteur, address abuses

The ICJ today joined other NGOs in drawing the UN Human Rights Council’s attention to the role of the Government of Cambodia in widespread human rights violations and abuses in the country, and called for renewal of the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur.

The joint NGO statement was delivered by Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada in a dialogue on the situation in Libya. The statement read as follows:

“Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC), the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), and the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) thank the Special Rapporteur for her reports. Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, ensuring that no one is “left behind,” necessitates equal access to remedies for rights violations within a trustworthy and independent legal system.

Cambodia has not fulfilled its treaty obligations to establish judicial independence and integrity. Civil society’s rights advocacy is continually resisted. Lawyers, defenders, journalists, politicians, or activists reporting on corruption, election irregularities, labour rights violations, illegitimate land acquisition, environmental degradation, or other rights abuses, often by businesses, are routinely subjected to official vilification; intimidation; interference with rights to expression, association, and assembly; criminalization; arbitrary detention; and even unlawful killings with impunity.

Since 2017, political opposition has been systematically suppressed, including through misuse of the judiciary. Despite the Special Rapporteur’s repeated calls for release of opposition leader Kem Sokha, he remains under court-imposed restrictions tantamount to house arrest. The Special Rapporteur has been denied visits with him contrary to Special Procedures terms of reference for country visits. In May, 25 former opposition members were summoned to court for questioning over two weeks. In September, the government threatened to arrest anyone supporting opposition politician Sam Rainsy’s return to Cambodia.

Cambodia’s responses to Special Procedures’ recommendations for the past twenty-five years have been characterized by disregard, delay, resistance, or hostility. Continued support for the Special Rapporteur’s mandate is critical to ensure that Cambodia fulfils its international human rights obligations. We request that the Council extend the mandate.”

The full written statement, including references, can be downloaded in PDF format here: UN-HRC42-Cambodia-2019

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