Cambodia’s Envoy to UN Hits Back at EU

Cambodia’s permanent representative to the U.N. shot back at concerns raised by an E.U. representative in Geneva regarding “the deterioration of the human rights situation,” claiming the criticisms were outdated due to the political “tranquility” of the past week.

Ney Samol said the concerns, noted in a statement at a U.N. Human Rights Council session in Geneva, were misplaced as there had been a recent de-escalation in tensions in the country.

“These statements do not catch up well with the positive evolvement of political situation in Cambodia, particularly with the occurrence of tranquility atmosphere since last week, after Samdech Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister, unilaterally declared the ending of political polemic,” Mr. Samol said on Thursday, according to an English transcription of the speech.

Mr. Samol added that the government would not welcome “any interference into our internal affairs” aimed at “destabilizing” the government.

“We oppose any hidden agenda, which exploits human rights; and serves as a political tool to vilify the Government reputation,” he said.

He was responding to a statement by Fedor Rosocha, Slovakia’s permanent representative at the U.N., who said the E.U. was concerned about “the deterioration of the human rights situation in Cambodia.”

“We call on the Cambodian authorities to allow the opposition to freely carry out their legitimate role, without threats or intimidation and to ensure a safe and enabling environment for human rights defenders and civil society,” Mr. Rosocha said on Thursday.

Earlier this month, the opposition was threatening mass protests after its deputy leader, Kem Sokha, was sentenced to five months in jail on charges widely perceived to be politically motivated. He is currently holed up in the party’s headquarters pending an appeal.

In the ensuing days, Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered military exercises outside the opposition headquarters and threatened to “eliminate” those who dared to demonstrate against the government. Days later, with the CNRP softening its rhetoric, the premier announced a tentative political “cease-fire.”

Contacted on Friday, Wan-Hea Lee, country head of the U.N.’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, welcomed the “cease-fire,” but listed a number of issues that were yet to be addressed, including a lack of information about the investigation into the July murder of political analyst Kem Ley and the “weak” charges hanging over members of civil society and the CNRP.

“The weaknesses in the administration of justice cannot be overcome solely with a political detente,” Ms. Lee said in an email.

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