Gov’t Rejects US Human Rights Assessment

Cambodia dismissed a US report on the country’s human rights record Thursday, saying that the annual report to the US Congress “entirely contradicts the true reality in the country.”

The annual survey, released by the US State Department on Wednesday, said an array of human rights guarantees, such as freedom from unlawful deprivation of life, fair public trials and freedom of speech, were lacking and that Cambodia’s human rights record “remained poor.”

On Wednesday, the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement in response, saying: “[W]e have found that many of the accusations contained in this report do not even exist or are simply over exaggerated.”

“We certainly recognize that human rights in Cambodia are not perfect. But is there any perfect human rights situation anywhere in the world?” the statement said, adding that the report relied too heavily on the views of anti-government NGOs and ap-peared timed to coincide with the national elections.

“Cambodia fully does not believe that the country report …will ever receive a good mark unless a Cambodian government has ‘affectionate’ relations with the United States of America,” the statement said.

US Ambassador Joseph Mus-someli said Thursday that bilateral relations remained healthy.

“We have a warm and friendly relationship with the Government of Cambodia and welcome our open dialogue,” he said in an e-mail.

Human rights is one of a bevy of issues, including counterterrorism, narcotics control and religious freedom, about which the US diplomatic corps is required to report annually to the US legislature.

Though viewed by many as authoritative, the report, which surveyed 196 countries in 2007, often provokes irritation among countries such as Russia, Venezuela and China, the latter of which has since 1998 produced a counter-report, “The Human Rights Record of the United States.”

SRP Deputy Secretary-General Mu Sochua said Thursday she felt the report was balanced and had no political motivations.

“This report is mild compared to what is happening,” she said.


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