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A United Nations expert on human rights is calling for significant changes to be made in Cambodia.
Asia Pacific World News

A United Nations expert on human rights is calling for significant changes to be made in Cambodia.

The UN’s Special Rapporteur for human rights in Cambodia, Vitit Muntarbhorn, expressed concerns about the hereditary transfer of power and its potential impact on human rights, democratic values, and international law.

The events leading up to and the results of the July elections were described as “highly concerning” by Mr. Muntarbhorn and other experts on human rights. This was due to limitations and mistreatment directed towards political rivals and the press.

In August, Hun Manet assumed the role of Prime Minister, succeeding his father, Hun Sen, who had been in power for over 30 years.

Human rights benchmarks

Mr. Muntarbhorn’s call occurred at the same time as he presented his report to the UN Human Rights Council. In the report, he evaluated advancements towards 20 important human rights standards.

According to him, a major difficulty in achieving human rights standards is the changing of power between generations in the nation. This is connected to the political and electoral procedures and further constrained by limited civil and political participation.

Out of the 20 benchmarks, 12 were not met, and three were partially met. Five benchmarks, specifically those pertaining to increasing educational access and allocating more resources to the social sector, were successfully achieved.

“The implementation of harsh and severe laws”

Mr. Muntarbhorn also received reports of continued attacks, unjustified arrests and prosecutions of human rights defenders, journalists, political dissidents and others critical of the authorities.  

He stated that draconian laws present difficulties for those tackling human rights and environmental concerns, as they encounter immense pressure when dealing with government officials.

Numerous individuals advocating for human rights and protecting the environment have been held in custody since the start of 2023, and the number of detainees has risen in comparison to the previous year.

According to Mr. Muntarbhorn, a number of political activists are currently imprisoned in faraway locations, causing worry about their rights and state of being. He urges for their prompt release and for any accusations against them to be dismissed.

Independent expert

The UN Human Rights Council designates Special Rapporteurs, who are part of a group called Special Procedures. These specialists are responsible for overseeing and documenting particular topics or circumstances in countries.

They work in their own capacity, are not employed by the UN, and do not receive a salary.