Some Skeptical About Positive EU Assessment

Rights workers and observers on Tuesday continued to voice skepticism about a European Parliament country assessment on Monday, saying they supported a more withering earlier evaluation by UN human rights envoy Yash Ghai. 

The European delegation challenged Ghai’s findings at a press conference, stating that its own evaluation of the country was more im­partial than the UN envoy’s.

“They didn’t understand the situation,” said Licadho President Kek Galabru, who met with the Euro­pean delegation last week. “It was a little bit confusing for them. They suffered from jet lag,” she said.

“[Ghai] has much more information than one delegation can get in a few days,” she added, stating that women’s rights are continuing to be abused and the perpetrators are not being punished.

Ghai enraged Prime Minister Hun Sen last month when he stated that there was too much power concentrated in the hands of one individual for freedom to flourish.

Marc Tarabella, first vice-chairman of the European Parliament committee for Asean relations, said Monday that the country had achiev­ed stability and held general elections in 2003 under “excellent conditions.”

While he added that the judiciary needed reform, he said there was a “good sign of decentralization.”

Sok Sam Oeun, executive director of the Cambodian Defenders Project, said the different viewpoints were understandable.

“Every person has different standards of human rights. Yash Ghai’s might have been very high. Maybe the European delegation’s was a little lower,” he said.

CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said the European officials gave a more balanced report. He noted that they visited Kompong Chhnang prov­ince with Cambodian Center for Hu­man Rights President Kem Sokha.

“Yash Ghai just stayed in Phnom Penh and read the reports by [former UN human rights envoy] Peter Leuprecht and a couple of people who didn’t like the government,” Cheam Yeap said.

Officials from the UN center for human rights and the UN Devel­opment Program declined comment.





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