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HRC33 Oral Statement during the Interactive Dialogue with Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia

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33rd Regular Session of the UN Human Rights Council

Item 10: Interactive Dialogue with Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia, Ms. Rhona Smith

Oral Statement Delivered by R. Iniyan Ilango

On behalf of the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Mr. President, We make this statement in solidarity with our members Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC) and Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO). We note the report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia which acknowledges restrictions on fundamental freedoms and democratic space. We further welcome her presentation which highlights the severe consequences of these restrictions.

Lim Mony, Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan and Nay Vanda, four senior staff of the prominent Cambodian NGO, ADHOC, and Ny Chakrya, an official of the National Election Committee and former employee of ADHOC, have been in detention since late April on trumped up charges of bribery. Just last week, Ny Chakrya was sentenced to six months imprisonment and fined 6 million Riel on separate charges including defamation[1]. This conviction relates to calls he made, when he was with ADHOC, to investigate procedural irregularities in the handling of land disputes by a judge and the deputy prosecutor at Siem Reap Provincial Court. Similarly, on 19 September, four women human rights defenders from Boeung Kak lake community were sentenced to six months in prison for obstruction of a public official and insult after a protest in November 2011[2]. One of the four WHRDs, Tep Vanny remains in pretrial detention since 17 August on separate charges relating to a Boeung Kak Lake community protest in 2013.[3] Tep Vanny was also convicted for her involvement in Black Monday protests to free detained civil society activists[4]. We call for the immediate and unconditional release of all detained human rights defenders.

In July, vocal government critic and influential political commentator, Kem Ley, was gunned down in broad day light in Phnom Penh. The government has shown no willingness to seriously investigate his murder. His death is a grave reminder of the severity of threats faced by human rights defenders and dissenters in Cambodia. We call for an independent and transparent investigation into the murder of Kem Ley.

We call on the Special Rapporteur to monitor in specific the freedoms of assembly, association and expression in Cambodia and report back on these in her next report. We also call on the rapporteur to identify a set of minimum benchmarks on these freedoms that the government should follow. Lastly, at this interactive dialogue we would like to ask the Rapporteur to elaborate on what is needed to improve the protection of human rights defenders in Cambodia. Lastly we urge member states of the Human Rights Council to monitor the situation in the country closely and to respond strongly to any further deterioration. Thank you.