National Assembly spokesman Chheang Vun on Friday defended Cambodia’s decision to reject four human rights proposals and merely take note of another 38 during the adoption of its second universal periodic review report in Geneva on Thursday.
In all, Cambodia accepted 163 of the 205 recommendations put to it during the human rights review, but did not commit to implementing recommendations including the protection of the press and the freedoms of assembly and expression.
Rights groups said the rejection reflected a lack of will by the government to protect people’s rights.
Speaking at the National Assembly, Mr. Vun, a senior CPP lawmaker, insisted that all the recommendations had been taken into account, but that ultimately some just would not work in Cambodia.
“Regarding the information from Geneva, this thing is not simple,” he said.
“We have taken into account their recommendations on some laws already, but what we don’t listen to them…what we don’t accept from them cannot be applied in Cambodia, because Cambodian society is not theirs,” he added. “They have to understand this.”
Mr. Vun said Cambodia could not accept recommendations that force “state institutions to become barricaded” off from acting against opposition or civil society protesters, also hinting that foreign stakeholders, such as the U.N., “took only one side that they want.”
“Today, I would like to ask the Geneva side clearly: Do you work for Cambodia or work for others, not Cambodia?
“I used to be an ambassador in charge of human rights in the United Nations,” Mr. Vun continued. “As its representative or spokesman regarding the human rights in Cambodia. I spoke to [the U.N.] a lot about not playing a role as the opposition against the government…about not coming to point [fingers]. This is the message that we want to send to them.”
Among the member states to give feedback to Cambodia in Geneva on Thursday was the U.K., which urged the government to review its economic land concessions procedures, respect fundamental rights and “ensure that the draft cyber crime law does not curtail freedom of expression.”
(Additional reporting by Lauren Crothers)