U.N. human rights envoy Surya Subedi held a two-hour closed-door meeting with National Election Committee (NEC) President Im Suosdey on Tuesday, during which the special rapporteur addressed concerns about the selection of NEC officials and the use of state property during election campaigns.
It was during his sixth mission to Cambodia in December 2011 that Mr. Subedi stressed that reforms needed to be made in order to ensure that elections would be free and fair in Cambodia.
In his report to the Human Rights Council in Geneva last year, Mr. Subedi said that “there are major flaws in the administration of elections in Cambodia and urgent and longer-term reforms are needed to give Cambodians confidence in the electoral process and in the workings of the National Election Committee.”
Speaking briefly to reporters after the meeting with Mr. Suosdey, Mr. Subedi was guarded as to the specific issues that were raised but spoke positively about the talks.
“The meeting was very productive; I had a number of issues to discuss, and was pleased to receive their response,” Mr. Subedi told reporters. “They’ve also given me their feedback with regard to the recommendations I made in my report.”
Mr. Subedi added that the focus of his current, and ninth mission to Cambodia, as with all the others, is on human rights.
“I’m not here to monitor the election process itself,” he said. “I have received some responses and, as I said, I need to process this information before I can share my views with you.”
In his 2012 report, Mr. Subedi said he was aware of “consistent and widespread use of state resources by the governing party” in the lead-up to the 2008 election.
Mr. Suosdey said he was happy with the meeting with the U.N. envoy and was more open about the contents of their exchange.
Mr. Subedi “told the NEC of his concerns that he was told that state properties have been used for elections campaigns and about the selection of staff at the NEC—it is not new,” Mr. Suosdey said.
One of the main aims of Mr. Subedi’s missions is to monitor the implementation of the rafts of recommendations he makes to the government in order to improve the overall human rights situation in the country.
“We have explained to him that it is difficult and involves the rule of law in Cambodia and technical issues of the NEC,” Mr. Suosdey said.
“It is a good occasion that we can explain to him Cambodia’s situation and law and experience of the NEC,” said Mr. Suosdey, adding that Mr. Subedi “did not respond” to his explanation of the NEC and its inner workings.
Today, Mr. Subedi is set to meet with Anti-Corruption Unit chief Om Yentieng, who is also the president of the government’s Cambodian Human Rights Committee.