Rights Envoy Apologizes to PM, Ministry Says

The Foreign Ministry claimed yesterday that UN human rights envoy Surya Subedi had written a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen last week, apologizing for comments he made at a press conference on June 17.

In a speech last Monday, Mr Hun Sen said Mr Subedi had been shown disrespect by telling reporters that he was “disappointed” he could not meet the premier during his 10-day fact-finding mission on the state of Cambodia’s judiciary.

Mr Subedi, the UN special rapporteur for human rights in Cambodia, had been scheduled to meet Mr Hun Sen on the last day of his visit, but the prime minister cancelled the meeting, reportedly because he had been suffering from a cold.

Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, said yesterday that Mr Subedi had sent a letter of apology but declined to release a copy of the letter.

Mr Subedi “sent the apology letter to Samdech Hun Sen,” Mr Kuong said. “First, he apologized to Mr Hun Sen. Secondly, he wished that Mr Hun Sen recover from his sickness…. Third, he declared some positive signs [he saw] during his trip to Cambodia.”

Mr Kuong said yesterday that Mr Hun Sen had written a letter back to Mr Subedi, but again declined to release a copy or provide details about its content.

Mr Subedi and officials at the UN human rights office in Phnom Penh, which assists Mr Subedi but is independent of his work, were unavailable yesterday.

In his speech last Monday, Mr Hun Sen said that he was considering reducing the number of times he met with Mr Subedi each year.

“I take this reason as grounds to consider how many times per year I should meet this representative, since three times per year seems to be a lot,” he said in his speech.

All UN human rights envoys have had rocky relations with Mr Hun Sen. In 2008, then-envoy Yash Ghai stepped down from his post after a turbulent three-year term without ever having been granted a meeting with the premier.


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