Cambodia’s representative to UN interrupts activist monk at rights council

Prominent activist monk Luon Sovath’s speech to the United Nations Human Rights Council on October 2 was repeatedly interrupted by Cambodia’s permanent representative in Geneva, who said Sovath is “not a real monk” and brought up the rape and defamation charges against him, which the monk has denied.

For more than a decade, Luon Sovath has spoken out on behalf of those affected by land disputes, contributed to the monitoring efforts of NGOs and joined protests in support of jailed activists. In June, he was defrocked for allegedly having inappropriate relations with several women, claims that he and civil society organizations have said are politically motivated.

During the 31st meeting of the 45th Regular Session of the council, An Sokkhoeurn, Cambodia’s permanent representative in Geneva, thrice interrupted Sovath, who was a guest speaker, questioning the accreditation of Sovath’s affiliated NGO, World Organization Against Torture, and his legitimacy as a monk.

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