By Surya Subedi
First of all, I have a great deal of respect for the prime minister of Cambodia both as a person and as the leader of the country and the government. I recognize that he has achieved a great deal for Cambodia. But there is room for improvement in the governance of Cambodia and my job is to identify the shortcomings that exist in the system and offer my recommendations to address them.
I do not wish to descend into the personal level and do not wish to have a dialogue with him or anybody in the government through the media. I have had a good level of cooperation from the government of Cambodia and my dialogue with the prime minister has been productive in the past. I look forward to working with him. Our approach may differ on some issues, but they can be addressed in a mutually respectful manner and through dialogue.
I am working in my professional capacity in Cambodia and I expect others to do the same. I am not representing Nepal in Cambodia. I am a professor of international law, a barrister in England and a human rights advocate. I am an independent expert working on behalf of the U.N. with a view to helping the people of Cambodia.
I also have been advising in my personal capacity the government of Nepal on legal and constitutional matters. Nepal has a liberal democracy where the judiciary is independent and people do not go to jail for criticizing the government. The civil society is vibrant and the government in Nepal respects and listens to the representatives of civil society. It has a democratic interim constitution at the moment and people have been trying to write a new constitution with a view to strengthening democracy, human rights and rule of law.
Both Cambodia and Nepal have gone through similar experiences in the past and have a great deal to learn from each other. I have and would welcome if the prime minister of Cambodia has any advice for the people and government of Nepal. Both of these ancient Asian nations have a rich cultural heritage and the people of Nepal respect the people of Cambodia for what they are and what they have been able to achieve.
Surya Subedi is the United Nations special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia and professor of International Law at the University of Leeds, England.