The UN human rights envoy to Cambodia said Friday he was pessimistic about human rights here and was planning to confront the country’s politicians about election-related killings.
“We haven’t seen any improvement [on human rights]. There hasn’t been in while…it’s a cause for concern,” said Thomas Hammarberg, after arriving at Pochentong Airport.
Hammarberg planned to meet King Norodom Sihanouk today, and during his weeklong visit also will speak with government officials and international organizations to prepare for a Nov 6 briefing to the UN General Assembly.
Hammarberg, who said he has so far seen no “political will” to investigate human rights abuses, called on the government to review the “problem of impunity” in the army and police, and form a committee to examine human rights legislation. He requested that the government arrest those who may have conducted extrajudicial killings after the September anti-government demonstrations.
Such issues, Hammarberg hinted, would be crucial in determining how much international aid Cambodia will receive. “The present situation is almost desperate for the current government in terms of international support,” he added, noting the lack of a coalition government. “I would be prepared to go to NGOs to ask for [international] assistance. But I need reassurance from the government…otherwise it’s futile.”
Hammarberg said Second Prime Minister Hun Sen has not yet responded to a request for a meeting.
Hammarberg also said a three-member UN team will arrive Nov 14 to gather evidence for an international tribunal to try former Khmer Rouge leaders for crimes against humanity.