Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday appeared to add his voice to the strong government reaction against criticism from U.N. human rights envoy Surya Subedi.
Mr. Subedi last month delivered reports on human rights and economic land concessions in Cambodia to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva. His observations have already met with criticism from Om Yentieng, president of the government’s Cambodian Human Rights Committee, and spokesman at the Council of Ministers’ Press and Quick Reaction Unit Keo Remy.
Without addressing Mr. Subedi by name, Mr. Hun Sen made allusions to Mr. Subedi’s reports on human rights and the U.N., in a speech at a graduation ceremony at the National Institute of Education in Phnom Penh.
“One person came and wrote a flimsy report,” the prime minister said, apparently referring to Mr. Subedi, contrasting the reports with the lengthy process the U.N. goes through to reach consensus on issues.
“I feel sorry that a person came to Cambodia and wrote a report concerning the human rights situation and reflected on whatever he wanted. They have the right [to write the report] and we have the right too, but there is a group that said it is advice from the U.N.,” Mr. Hun Sen said.
“He claims he is a law professor. If he is a law professor, why doesn’t he go to his country to help write a constitution?” Mr. Hun Sen said.
Mr. Subedi—a Nepali who is a professor of international law at the University of Leeds, England—compiled his reports based on missions he made to Cambodia in December 2011 and May this year.
In a response sent by email yesterday, Mr. Subedi said he respected the prime minister’s achievements. He also pointed out that he does advise the government of Nepal—which is working on a constitution—in a personal capacity, including on constitutional matters.
“Nepal has a liberal democracy where the judiciary is independent and people do not go to jail for criticizing the government,” Mr. Subedi wrote, in an apparent jibe at the controversial jailing of broadcaster Mam Sonando by a court in Phnom Penh this week.
Mr. Subedi is not the first U.N. envoy to induce Mr. Hun Sen’s wrath. In 2001, Mr. Hun Sen called then-Special Rapporteur Peter Leuprecht “stupid” after he submitted a critical report to the U.N.
Mr. Subedi’s predecessor, Yash Ghai, resigned from the post in 2008, complaining that the government was uncooperative. Mr. Hun Sen once called Mr. Ghai “deranged.”