New UN Rights Envoy To Make First Visit

Hoping to reestablish government contacts that broke down almost completely under his predecessor, newly appointed UN human rights envoy to Cambodia Surya Subedi is to arrive Monday for his first visit to the country, officials said.

Though an agenda for the 10-day visit is still being planned, Mr Subedi is seeking meetings with Prime Minister Hun Sen, Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana, Land Management Minister Im Chhun Lim, and National Assembly President Heng Samrin, among other officials, said Christophe Peschoux, country representative for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

“The purpose will be to familiarize himself with the complex realities of Cambodia…and to renew a fruitful dialogue on human rights issues of concern,” Mr Peschoux said.

Mr Peschoux stressed that this is Mr Subedi’s first visit to Cambodia and it will not immediately result in an assessment of Cambodia’s respect for human rights.

“He is not going to use this visit to pass judgment on the human rights situation,” he said.

Government officials said Wednesday they were unaware of the impending visit of Mr Subedi.

Mr Vathana and Mr Samrin could not be reached for comment.

Named as UN Special Rapporteur in March, Mr Subedi replaces Yash Ghai, the former Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, who resigned in September saying the international community had failed to support him in his rocky relations with the government.

Mr Hun Sen angrily denounced Mr Ghai and his unvarnished human rights assessments and refused ever to meet him. However, the prime minister pro-

mised in September to cooperate with Mr Ghai’s successor.

The UN Human Rights Council named Mr Subedi as UN Special Rapporteur in March after a five-month selection process in which he emerged as the government’s favorite candidate.

As part of UN reform, the position was modified from being a representative of the Secretary-General to a rapporteur named by the Council.

SRP lawmaker Mu Sochua said Wednesday that she hoped a climate of dialogue could be re-

established, but described the current human rights situation as “alarming.”

“I am careful to be so positive because the situation is deteriorating. I can only hope that this stage of establishing relationships is not over extended,” she said.                         (Additional reporting by Prak Chan Thul)


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