A Cambodian delegation responded to a wide range of questions regarding the human rights situation in Cambodia at the UN Human Rights Committee during the 134th session of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) from March 9-11.
Chin Malin, vice-president of the Cambodian Human Rights Committee (CHRC), led an inter-ministerial delegation to attend the third review of the national report on the Kingdom’s implementation of the ICCPR. The forum was held in a hybrid format.
Joining him were officials from the Ministries of Interior; Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation; Justice; Women’s Affairs; Labour and Vocational Training; and Information. The delegation had a total of nine members.
According to a CHRC press statement released on March 11, during the three-day dialogue, members of the committee expressed appreciation of the progress that Cambodia has made in implementing the ICCPR provisions. They also asked for clarification and further explanation in a number of areas such as the national legal framework, the establishment of a National Human Rights Institution, anti-corruption measures, state of emergency laws, Covid-19-related legislation and legal action taken during the pandemic.
“They [UN committee] also asked questions about the issues of impunity; non-discrimination; violence against women; extrajudicial killings; torture; deprivation of liberty; human trafficking and labour exploitation; independence of the judiciary; freedom of expression, association and assembly; democratic space and civil societies; voting rights and participation in politics; juvenile justice system; social justice; land issues and rights of indigenous peoples,” the statement said.
The CHRC said the delegation had cooperated fully with the committee, clarifying all of its inquiries and clearly explaining the situation in Cambodia. As representatives of a self-determining sovereign state, they were able to answer all queries by referring to national and international law, and international best practice, it said.
The delegation also based their responses on political and technical aspects related to human rights and law enforcement, while showing the progress of the government in its promotion and protection of human rights – especially under the circumstances of Covid-19 – and its building and maintaining of peace, which it said is the foundation for all human rights and development.
According to the CHRC, the report review is a mechanism employed by the UN human rights committee to monitor the implementation of the ICCPR by member states.
“The review of the report is not a forum for humiliating, criticising or attacking each other over perceived human rights issues, but for establishing constructive dialogue between a nation’s representatives and members of the [UN] committee.
“The dialogue serves the purpose of sharing and exchanging good practices, experiences, shortcomings, concerns or any challenges, as well as planning future work directions,” the statement said.
According to the CHRC, the constructive dialogue provided an opportunity for Cambodia to present its achievements, and explain and refute any allegations that may have been made regarding civil and political rights. It was a chance to show the real situation in Cambodia and an opportunity to get recommendations from human rights experts as well.
“From the beginning of the review to its conclusion, the dialogue was conducted with understanding. It was enjoyable and achieved remarkable results,” the statement said.
Am Sam Ath, deputy director for human rights group LICADHO, said that as Cambodia had ratified the covenant, the country must fully implement it. There are still restrictions on certain human rights, he said.
“Cambodia has a duty to fulfill the conditions of the ICCPR correctly and enable the public to enjoy their full rights. Cambodia should review where there are shortcomings in the conditions defined by the ICCP and work to improve them – especially around civil and political rights,” he said.