EU Told ‘Urgent Action’ Needed on Rights

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) on Friday released a briefing paper it sent to the European Union (E.U.) mission in Cambodia, in which it details a “deteriorating human rights situation” that should be addressed.

In the 20-page report, sent ahead of a planned meeting between E.U. and government officials in Phnom Penh next week to discuss aid, trade and human rights, FIDH calls for “urgent action” from Europe on land grabs, electoral reform, freedom of expression and assembly, labor trafficking and the work of the government’s human rights body.

“The human rights situation in Cambodia has deteriorated since the 2009 [universal periodic review],” FIDH said.

“Corruption remains endemic and violence against government critics is systematic. Activists and journalists have been murdered and the authorities have consistently failed to properly investigate those crimes and bring the perpetrators to justice. Prominent government critics have been imprisoned on spurious charges,” the organization said.

“Business figures and politicians have routinely broken the law, intimidated opponents, and benefited from land concessions and land confiscation that have displaced close to a million people. Violence against women, sex and labor trafficking, child right’s violations all remain serious human rights challenges in the country,” it added.

On the back of these concerns and among its recommendations, FIDH wants the E.U. to put pressure on the government to be transparent in its promises to resolve land disputes related to sugar plantations.

It also wants assurances that human rights defenders will be able to continue their work without fear of reprisal and for the government to “establish a thorough, transparent, and independent investigation into serious allegations of election fraud and irregularities during the July 2013 polls.”

The E.U. mission in Cambodia did not return a request for comment on Friday and Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said he had not heard about next week’s meeting with European officials. “The Cambodian government doesn’t work under anyone’s pressure, because we work in the context of cooperation and good relations,” he said.

“I wish all mission partners shall find out a comprehensive solution to work together in partnership.”

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