Gov’t Human Rights Committee Receives Medals

As international criticism of the government’s recent moves to si­lence opposition voices continued, mem­bers of the government’s hu­man rights committee received med­als and celebrated six years of work in a ceremony on Friday.

Dozens of officials turned out at the Cambodian Human Rights Com­mit­tee’s sparse Phnom Penh of­fices where 45 officials were given medals “for the fruitful achievements of the committee,” according to a report released by the group, headed by Om Yentieng, an adviser to Prime Minister Hun Sen.

“We will continue to fulfill our du­ties to promote a better human rights situation in Cambodia that com­plies with the government policy,” the report reads.

The committee was formed in the af­termath of the 1997 factional fighting between forces loyal to Funcin­pec and the CPP. At the time, Om Yen­­­­tieng said it was established to correct errors in a UN report that high­­­light­ed alleged abductions, executions and other human rights vio­la­­tions perpetrated during the fighting.

According to the brief Friday re­port, since its creation the committee has received 436 complaints, re­searched and investigated 125 cas­es, intervened in 228 cases and is still working on 75. In vague terms, it stated that the committee has disseminated education rights to students in six prov­in­ces and municipalities, and disseminated the rights to control prisoners to prisoners and guards in 12 prov­inces.

It also said the committee had in­vestigated the World Food Program rice fraud between 2003 and 2004, with good results.

Om Yentieng could not be reach­ed for comment.

Mu Sochua, opposition party mem­ber and former minister of wo­m­en’s affairs, said of the ceremony: “I am very concerned, even alarm­ed, that members of the human rights committee are receiving med­als when human rights in Cambo­dia…are being denied.”

“The neutrality and political independence of this committee has been questioned for a long time,” she added.

Cambodian Center for Human Rights spokesman Ou Virak questioned the validity of the resolutions the committee had reached, while he dismissed the decision to award medals. “It’s just what’s expected for this country. It doesn’t mean anything,” he said.


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