Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Cambodia’s Human Rights Situation: An Update

April 4, 2006

Washington D.C. - The Congressional Human Rights Caucus held a briefing today on current human rights issues facing Cambodia. Witnesses included Kem Sokha of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR); Ngoun Teang of Voice of Democracy, CCHR; Raissa Tatad of the National Democratic Institute (NDI); Cynthia Burton of the International Republican Institute (IRI); and T. Kumar of Amnesty International.

Sokha focused his remarks on freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. He said that the lack of these rights in Cambodia is major problem within the overall human rights situation there. He said there is only one independent Cambodian TV station, and its creator has been arrested twice already. He added that it is the job of human rights organizations to “give homework to the prime minister,” encouraging him to take steps to follow through on his human rights promises. After handing a notice to Prime Minister Hun Sen on land reform, Sokha said he plans to hand him another on judiciary reform, and a later one on corruption. He said the prime minister has incentive to improve the country’s human rights record because he has expressed a desire for Cambodia to do better Singapore and Malaysia.

Teang reiterated Sokha’s call for a “fight of freedom of expression.” In working with the Cambodian government on the issue, he said he could see a compromise happening before a total shift.

For structures vital for human rights to be present in Cambodia, the country must create a rule of law free from political interference, Kumar said. “The laws are still in place to lock people up for things that are unfair.” He said the citizens of Cambodia should have had a say in the past border exchange. He spoke of the political leaders and human rights activists that have been killed or jailed, and to Sokha and Teang he said, “You are not only fighting for human rights in Cambodia; you are fighting for human rights around the world.”

Tatad-Hazell remarked on the ironic ‘coincidence’ of how many imprisoned opponents of the Cambodian government were released just before a donor meeting, in which Cambodia asked for over $2 million. There is “an enormous centralization of power,” she said, quoting the UN. NDI feels there should be a strong and wider urge for the Cambodian government to uphold the rights of the peace agreement of 1999.

Bunton also spoke of the freedom of assembly law. He said NRI fully supports SRP Party in Cambodia, and views it as a democratic party. “Bottom line,” said Bunton, “If we can cash in all of Hun Sen’s promises, than Cambodia would be a perfect place.”


Post a Comment

<< Home