Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Rapporteur holds series of meetings

Rapporteur holds series of meetings

UN Special Rapporteur Rhona Smith speaks with reporters yesterday after leaving a meeting at the Ministry of Justice.
UN Special Rapporteur Rhona Smith speaks with reporters yesterday after leaving a meeting at the Ministry of Justice. Hong Menea

Rapporteur holds series of meetings

UN Special Rapporteur to Cambodia Rhona Smith launched her third fact-finding mission yesterday, meeting with four government agencies and addressing concerns over curbs on the freedom of expression, peaceful demonstrations and rising pre-trial detention rates.

The high-stakes visit comes amid growing concerns of increasing strictures on human and civil rights and escalating political tensions, and after local and international rights groups criticised her for her perceived inaction.

Yesterday, the special rapporteur met with Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana, Cambodian Human Rights Committee (CHRC) head Keo Remy, Phnom Penh governor Pa Socheatvong and Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron.

Smith said she had informed Socheatvong of her concern over Monday’s attack on a human rights monitor by Daun Penh district security guards during a march marking World Habitat Day.

“We did express regret at the resulting violence, and he explained some of the background from his perspective,” she told reporters as she left City Hall.

Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Cambodia Rhona Smith shakes hands with Minister of Justice Ang Vong Vathana during a meeting yesterday in Phnom Penh.
Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Cambodia Rhona Smith shakes hands with Minister of Justice Ang Vong Vathana during a meeting yesterday in Phnom Penh. Hong Menea

At the meeting with the CHRC – which is a government body – Remy said the victims of the attack had the right to legal recourse, but also questioned the timing of the march and subsequent violence.

“Why did nothing happen before she arrived? The march and violent brawl happened only after she arrived in Cambodia,” Remy said.

Earlier in the day, Smith held a 90-minute meeting with Vong Vathana touching on a range of issues – reducing pre-trial detention, alternatives to prison sentences and the recent slew of legal cases against the opposition and land rights activists.

“We discussed the wide range of cases and the need to strengthen the evidentiary rules, and that [procedures] are carried out fairly,” she said.

Ministry spokesman Chin Malin, however, maintained the discussion stayed away from the current political situation and focused on technical strengthening of the ministry and courts.

MOST VIEWED

  • Government set to slash holidays

    The private sector has welcomed the government’s move to reduce the number of public holidays in the in the Kingdom – known for having the most public holidays in the world – by seven days. However, the government had just added the “Day of Remembrance” on

  • Kith Theang being held in PJ prison

    Kith Theang, the brother of prominent businessman Kith Meng, was charged by Phnom Penh Municipal Court late on Monday and sent to the capital’s Police Judiciare (PJ) prison over the nearly 50kg of drugs found in a February 23 raid by authorities on the Rock

  • Farmers told not to plant next rice crop

    THE Ministry of Environment has told Cambodian rice farmers to refrain from planting crops in the midst of a drought heightened by record temperatures due to this year’s El Nino phenomenon. Temperatures are expected to peak in April and May. “Every year, [farmers usually]

  • Phay Siphan: Preah Sihanouk will become a second Singapore

    Government spokesman Phay Siphan said on Monday that Preah Sihanouk province will become a second Singapore, as authorities were warned that its development, fuelled largely by Chinese investment, was coming at a cost to locals. Siphan was speaking at a press conference after a seminar