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[HRC52 Oral Statement] Item 10: General debate on technical assistance and capacity building

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52nd regular session of the UN Human Rights Council

Item 10: General debate on technical assistance and capacity building

Joint oral statement delivered by Chhime Namdol Sherpa

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

3 April 2023


Mr. President,

The implementation of the technical cooperation and capacity building mandate of the Council should be grounded in accurate analysis of the situations that are being addressed through this mandate.

We are deeply concerned that the situation in Cambodia has not shown any meaningful signs of improvement despite the long-standing Council mandate to provide advisory services and technical cooperation.

The downward spiral of civil and political rights in Cambodia continues with the government’s systematic use of repressive legislation and the criminal justice system to harass, intimidate and prosecute human rights defenders, trade unionists, journalists and members of the political opposition in flagrant disregard for its international human rights obligations.

The cancellation of the licence of Voice of Democracy, one of the few remaining independent news outlets, and the unjust imprisonment of opposition leader Kem Sokha for 27 years on politically motivated charges represent a significant escalation in the ongoing assault on critical voices especially in the lead up to the upcoming general elections.

This follows conviction of 36 opposition leaders and activists in December 2022 for ‘plotting’ under Article 453 of the Criminal Code. This was the fourth verdict in the five mass trials initiated in November 2020 against 158 leaders and supporters of the now arbitrarily dissolved main political party.

These actions of the authorities seriously undermine the environment for credible, inclusive elections.

We call on Cambodia to immediately implement the 20 benchmarks presented by the Special Rapporteur in September 2022 to create minimum conditions for elections that have any semblance of credibility.

Failure to do so should result in further, more stringent action from the Council.

Thank you.