Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - UN rapporteur to monitor rights in visit to Kingdom

UN rapporteur to monitor rights in visit to Kingdom

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Rhona Smith will arrive in Phnom Penh on April 29 to monitor the current human rights situation in Cambodia. Hong Menea

UN rapporteur to monitor rights in visit to Kingdom

Rhona Smith, the UN Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Cambodia, is to arrive in Phnom Penh on Monday to monitor the current situation in the Kingdom at the invitation of the government.

During an 11-day visit from April 29 to May 9, Smith is due to meet senior members of the government, representatives of civil society and members of the diplomatic community, the UNHRC said on Wednesday.

Smith will also visit various locations to gather information directly as she compiles a report on the human rights situation in Cambodia, which is to be presented to the council in Geneva in September.

“I will be focusing my mission on the current situation of human rights and will be following up on developments since my previous mission last November.

“I also aim to continue my examination of human rights with respect to the Sustainable Development Goals, looking in particular at non-discrimination and equality, and participation and accountability,” Smith said.

She will close her visit with a press conference at the Human Rights Council office in Phnom Penh to discuss the preliminary findings from her time in the Kingdom.

Ministry of Justice spokesman Chin Malin said Smith was making one of her regular visits to the country, as she does two or three times a year, in which she focuses her attention on various issues regarding human rights in Cambodia.

He said Cambodia had endeavoured to build on past visits, address concerns and meet recommendations laid out in previous reports.

“Each visit always results in progress, and we make reports to her on the development of rights, freedom and democracy in Cambodia. She comes to assess the recommendations made for Cambodia, how Cambodia has implemented them and what challenges we are facing,” Malin said.

Malin added the government would report to Smith when she arrived on how Cambodia had implemented past recommendations made, as well as outline what goals would be enacted next.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan said that Cambodia welcomed Smith’s visit as the Kingdom has good relations with the UNHRC and they were development partners in bolstering human rights in Cambodia.

“She will receive good cooperation in strengthening the human rights sector in Cambodia on her visit, but there is no closing of human rights in Cambodia,” he said.

Chak Sopheap, the executive director of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights (CCHR), could not be reached for comment.

Smith had said after her previous visit to Cambodia concluded in November last year: “I encourage the government to create a more favourable environment for civil society to operate. This will be an important step in creating the space for free and informed debate around the pressing issues to promote Cambodia’s sustainable development and lasting peace.”

She also renewed calls for Kem Sokha, the president of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party, to be released from his treason charge, saying that keeping the former opposition leader on bail at his house in Phnom Penh under court-imposed conditions was a restriction of his rights.

Despite the good sentiment expressed before this most recent visit, there have been tensions between Smith and the Cambodian government in recent years.

In September last year, Siphan accused Smith of acting like a “teacher in a classroom” after she labelled the Kingdom a “de facto single party state” after the results of the general election saw the ruling Cambodian People’s Party win all 125 parliamentary seats.

“[Smith] regards Cambodia as a classroom and Cambodia’s leaders as her students. She should evaluate Cambodia based on the realities – where the Kingdom started its journey and where it is now,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • NY sisters inspired by Khmer heritage

    Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Cambodian-American sisters Edo and Eyen Chorm have always felt a deep affinity for their Cambodian heritage and roots. When the pair launched their own EdoEyen namesake jewellery brand in June, 2020, they leaned heavily into designs inspired by ancient Khmer

  • Schools drawn into Manet degree row

    Prime Minister Hun Sen stepped into the Hun Manet-Sam Rainsy war of words over the validity of Manet’s degree from the US Military Academy at West Point, set off by Rainsy’s claims that Manet had received a “second-class degree” or “honorary degree”. Hun

  • Cambodia records first Omicron community case

    The Ministry of Health on January 9 reported 30 new Covid-19 cases, 29 of which were imported and all were confirmed to be the Omicron variant. The ministry also reported 11 recoveries and no new deaths. Earlier on January 9, the ministry also announced that it had detected the Kingdom's

  • The effects of the USD interest rate hike on Cambodian economy

    Experts weigh in on the effect of a potential interest rate expansion by the US Federal Reserve on a highly dollarised Cambodia Anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in March is putting developing economies on edge, a recent blog post by

  • PM eyes Myanmar peace troika

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has suggested that ASEAN member states establish a tripartite committee or diplomatic troika consisting of representatives from Cambodia, Brunei and Indonesia that would be tasked with mediating a ceasefire in Myanmar. The premier also requested that Nippon Foundation chairman Yohei Sasakawa

  • Kampot tourism quay ‘90% done’

    Construction on Kampot International Tourism Port – a 4ha quay in Teuk Chhou district about 6km west of Kampot town – has fallen off track, reaching 90 per cent completion, according to a senior Ministry of Tourism official last week. The project is now planned to be finished