UN Human Rights Chief Stands by Comments

In response to government criticism, UN human rights office chief Christophe Peschoux yesterday stood by recent comments he made expressing concerns over the how the government conducted the deportation of two Thai nationals accused of being the masterminds behind a recent bomb explosion in Bangkok.

“The OHCHR does not have anything to add to what it said in The Cambodia Daily of 6 July,” Mr Peschoux wrote in an email yesterday. “I am replying in writing to the letter of the Minister of Foreign Affairs dated [Thursday] to further clarify our legal analysis which is based on international human rights standards binding on Cambodia.”

On Thursday, Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong sent a letter to Mr Peschoux threatening him with possible expulsion for interfering with so-called sovereign matters in Cambodia.

The letter was in reaction to comments made by Mr Peschoux in The Daily on Wednesday saying the UN human rights office was concerned that the deportations of the two Thai nationals took place without proper legal procedures that require a formal extradition request and access to a lawyer in Cambodia.

Mr Peschoux added yesterday that the OHCHR is “looking forward to working with the Government to strengthen the legal framework as it relates to expulsions of aliens from Cambodia. We have sought a meeting with the Ministry of Interior to this end.”

Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Foreign Affairs Ministry, said by telephone yesterday that the government has nothing to add to its letter sent to Mr Peschoux on Thursday.

“The concerns in the letter sent by Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong is enough,” he said, declining to comment any further.

The government’s reaction to Mr Peschoux’s comments marked the second time a top UN official has been threatened with expulsion after making remarks deemed critical of the government’s actions.

In March, the government threatened to expel UN Resident Coordinator Douglas Broderick after he released a statement on behalf of the UN Country Team recommending the government allow “sufficient time” for lawmakers and civil society organizations to analyze the government’s draft anticorruption law before it was debated in the National Assembly.


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