NGOs Press Visiting UN Head on Meeting with PM

In the second visit of a UN Secretary-General since 1993, Ban Ki-moon arrived yesterday evening ahead of talks with Prime Minister Hun Sen this morning.

Details about the agenda for the meeting remained scant. However the pair are expected to discuss the Khmer Rouge tribunal’s funding and continued operations.

In an open letter to the secretary-general, the Cambodian Center for Human Rights yesterday urged Mr Ban to press Mr Hun Sen on decriminalizing defamation and disinformation, not interfering in the Khmer Rouge tribunal, being more tolerant of criticism and drafting a fair NGO law.

On Monday and the week before, housing rights groups and Phnom Penh residents submitted letters urging Mr Ban to help thousands of families facing eviction around Boeng Kak lake secure the land titles the groups insist they have rights to.

Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong, however, said he could not say what issues the prime minister intended to raise with Mr Ban despite recent bumps in relations between Cambodia and the UN. The Foreign Ministry in March threatened to expel UN Resident Coordinator Douglas Broderick after the UN Country Team unanimously said more time was needed for the National Assembly to review draft anticorruption legislation which is to take effect next month.

The ministry called the UN statement “flagrant and unacceptable interference” in Cambodia’s affairs. Even so, Mr Kuong described relations between the UN and Cambodia as “good” and “increasing.”

“The main important thing is to strengthen cooperation between the UN and Cambodia,” he said of Mr Ban’s visit.

Like Information Minister Khieu Kanharith, though, he said the government would only discuss this morning’s talks with the prime minister after the fact.

Non-government groups, meanwhile, continued urging Mr Ban yesterday to raise a list of human rights issues during the meeting.

Aimee Brown, a spokeswoman for the office of the UN Resident Coordinator, said her office was continuing to forward all letters addressed to Mr Ban on to his staff. She said whether the secretary general intended to accommodate any of them would be a decision for his staff alone.


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