Rights Envoy: Nation Faces Serious Issues

All cases of alleged political killings—especially the recent high-profile case of Funcinpec adviser Om Radsady—must be “seriously investigated” and Cambodia’s progress on judicial and legal reforms remains “disappointingly slow,” UN human rights envoy Peter Leuprecht told the UN Commission on Human Rights on Monday in Geneva.

During his report to the UN, Leuprecht also said Cambodia is facing “very serious human rights issues” and needs the continued support of the international community.

“The atmosphere in [Cambo­dia] was tense after the anti-Thai riots and some fresh assassinations, particularly that of Om Radsady, a close adviser to Prince Ranariddh,” Leuprecht told the UN. “As far as these cases are concerned, nobody seemed to believe seriously that those who killed him did so to steal his mobile phone.”

He added that almost all of the benchmarks agreed to by the government and donors regarding legal and judicial reforms had not been met by the deadlines.

While he cited the recent creation of the Royal School for the Training of Judges and Prose­cutors as a positive step for judicial reforms, he added that “the opening of the school has been delayed.”

Leuprecht also weighed in on the upcoming national elections, scheduled for July 27.

He urged the National Election Committee not to be a “paper tiger” and to use its powers, “including the power to impose sanctions.”

“As Cambodia is progressing on the road to democracy, it is to be hoped that this year’s elections will be held in better conditions than last year’s [commune elections],” he said. “There should be no threats, no intimidation, no violence and no vote buying.”

While most observers praised the February 2002 commune elections as a step forward in Cambo­dia’s democratic process and cited a decrease in election-related killings, there were still more than 17 instances of Sam Rainsy Party or Funcinpec officials or their family members being killed.

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