The leaders of two Cambodian human rights groups said Wednesday they plan to lobby the UN’s Human Rights Council in Geneva next month ahead of a vote on whether to continue human rights envoy presence in Cambodia.
Yash Ghai, the current rights envoy, is to deliver a report next month to the Council, which is also scheduled to vote in September on whether or not to approve the continued existence of the post of special representatives for human rights in Cambodia.
Kek Galabru, president of Licadho, said she did not know if the 47-member UN body’s support for a human rights representative in Cambodia was flagging but that she remained concerned.
“We plan to go to lobby the members of the UN council,” she said. “We want to see the mandate extended.”
Thun Saray, president of the rights group Adhoc, said he also planned to meet with Council members in Geneva to lobby in favor of continued scrutiny of the situation in Cambodia by a special representatives.
The UN has, since the expiry of the Untac mandate in 1993, appointed four special representatives for human rights in Cambodia to monitor and assist the government in meeting international rights obligations.
Relations with the government have been rocky and at a meeting of the Council in June, Cambodia’s Ambassador to Switzerland Chheang Vun called on the Council to remove Ghai.
Om Yentieng, human rights adviser to Prime Minister Hun Sen, could not be reached for comment and Foreign Affairs Ministry officials said they were too busy.
CPP lawmaker Nguon Nhel said that, while the government must decide whether to seek the continued presence of special representatives or of a UN human rights office, their presence could be beneficial if they cooperate with the government.
“For me, if the UN offices serve democracy it is good to have them, but they must show this directly and be partners,” he said.
(Additional reporting by Yun Samean)