UN Body Likely To Appoint Rights Rapporteur

The international scrutiny of human rights in Cambodia is set to be renewed today, with a UN body in Geneva likely to adopt a resolution to express concern for continuing abuses and to appoint a special rapporteur.

Observers said Monday that the resolution, put forward by Japan on Thursday at the 47-member UN Human Rights Council, was more than likely to be unanimously adop­ted though minor changes were still under discussion.

The resolution calls on Cambo­dia to reform its judiciary, combat corruption, ensure political freedoms, prevent land grabbing and sexual violence as well as prosecute the perpetrators of serious crimes.

Om Yentieng, president of the gov­ernment’s human rights com­mit­tee, declined Monday to comment ahead of the resolution’s ad­op­tion, but CPP National As­sembly First Vice President Nguon Nhel said the government had long since adopted the very same priorities.

“These are among the cluster priorities in the Rectangular Stra­tegy of the Royal Government that Samdech Decho Hun Sen stated at the national [CPP] congress in May…and which the Royal Govern­ment continues to implement,” Nguon Nhel said.

In announcing his resignation to the Council on Sept 15, former UN rights envoy Yash Ghai urged the body to continue the presence of UN special envoys in Cambodia but said the Cambodian government had disregarded much of their work in the past 15 years.

The resolution under consideration today calls for a special rapporteur, to be appointed by the Coun­cil, to carry on the mandate of the four previous special representatives, who had been appointed by UN secretaries-general since 1993.

Human Rights Watch Geneva Director Juliette de Rivero said Mon­day that the Council had sent Cambodia a strong message.

“The Council will renew the mandate on Cambodia because serious problems persist in the country. The draft resolution tabled at the Council clearly calls on the government to address the problem of impunity as a matter of priority,” she wrote in an e-mail.

The resolution also calls on Cambodia “to further strengthen its cooperation with…the Office of the United Nations High Com­mis­sion­er for Human Rights.”

Cambodian officials and lawmakers have frequently suggested they could seek to have the office closed and in negotiations last year de­clined UN proposals to expand its role. Cambodian and UN officials are preparing to renegotiate an agreement defining government cooperation with the office that expires in April.

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