Rights Seminar Starts Today

A seminar on human rights convenes at the Senate compound, the first of its kind since the governing body’s formation in March, a Senate official said.

“This is the first, and hopefully the best,” said Kem Sokha, chairman of the commission on hu­man rights .

Speakers will include Rose­mary McCreery, director of the UN Office of the High Commis­sioner for Human Rights; Om Yen­tieng, a top Hun Sen adviser and member of the government’s human rights commission; and representatives from the Minis­tries of Interior, Justice, Social Affairs and Women’s Affairs.

He said the gathering’s aim is to meld together various interests and eventually present thoughtful reforms for passage in the National Assembly.

It also marks one of Kem Sokha’s more public events since going into hiding last year.

Once head of Untac’s and the Na­tional Assembly’s human rights commissions, Kem Sokha has long been an outspoken government critic. He made several public speeches in response to the National Election Commit­tee’s refusal to conduct more than a few recounts after the July 1998 elections.

The speeches by Kem Sokha and other critics sparked weeks of sit-ins that eventually led to confrontations between police and demonstrators in September 1998. Kem Sokha went into hiding when a travel ban was imposed on opposition officials linked to the pro­tests. In court last December, he denied inciting any violence. Earlier this year, he joined Fun­cin­pec and took over his post in the Senate.

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