Ministry Defends Its Record on Human Rights

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday defended itself against criticism from UN human rights envoy Peter Leuprecht, saying that it has made significant progress on the issues of human rights in Cambodia.

“It is obviously noticeable that the report…submitted by Peter Leuprecht has mainly repeated the same wording without taking into account the realities and progress of the Royal Govern­ment of Cambodia,” according to a statement issued by the ministry on Wednesday. “Over the past 10 years, the Royal Govern­ment of Cambodia has consistently made human rights one of its top priorities.”

The government’s reaction appears to stem from the most re­cent report issued by Leuprecht in late March which stated that the government has not done enough to improve the human rights situation, especially with regard to judicial reform, forestry is­sues and problems with the electoral process.

On Monday, Leuprecht again criticized the government when he addressed the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva and repeated earlier charges that the government has not done enough to improve human rights.

“The [government] continues to actively build on its human rights progress and remains vigilant on all fronts,” according to the ministry statement. “The [government] has made every ef­fort to protect the interests of the Cambodian people.”

Specifically, the statement said the government has done a great deal to improve the forestry sector, legal and judicial reform, and specifically for security for the upcoming national elections.

“The [government] has taken all necessary steps and measures to provide safety, security and social order to create a conductive environment” to peaceful elections, the statement said.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Minister of Foreign Affairs Hor Namhong also def­ended the government against the annual US State Department report on the human rights situation in Cambodia.

“The government has strengthened the hu­man rights situation in Cambo­dia. We allow the UN to have a location in Cambodia—these are signs that the Cambo­dian government respects the human rights situation,” Hor Namhong said.

“In Asia, the freedoms are not excellent, but it’s getting better and better.”

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