UN Envoy ‘Pessimistic’

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.

 

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