Measures in Cambodia, which left radio programmes and licences suspended, have sparked the United Nations human rights wing to call on the Government for political and civil rights guarantees.
“We are concerned by a rapid series of ministerial and administrative measures which have resulted in the suspension of radio programmes and licences, threatened a main English-language newspaper with closure, and shut down a foreign non-governmental organisation,” Liz Throssell, Spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told reporters at today's regular press briefing.
“Ahead of next year's general election, we call on the Government to guarantee full political and civil rights, and media freedoms,” she added.
The National Democratic Institute (NDI), a foreign non-governmental organization (NGO), was shut down by ministerial order on 23 August, in the first such closure brought under the 2015 Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organisations.
Noting that the organisation has been working on elections and with parties across the political spectrum, OHCHR pointed out that its international staff were given seven days to leave the country.
Earlier this month, three Cambodian organisations working on human rights and elections were also subjected to targeted tax investigations.
“We have concerns that NDI was closed without due process, and are worried about the overall deterioration of the environment for human rights defenders and civil society in Cambodia,” continued Ms. Throssell.
Moreover, the Government this week has revoked licences for some radio frequencies, thus blocking programmes aired by national independent human rights and media organisations, US-funded stations Radio Free Asia and Voice of America, and the main opposition party.
The OHCHR spokesperson said that the Cambodia Daily, one of the main independent English-language newspapers, was given until 4 September to pay an alleged $6.3 million in tax arrears, or be closed. While the paper has called for a transparent tax audit and the right to appeal, its requests have gone unheeded.
“We call on the Royal Government of Cambodia to ensure due process in all measures taken, including the right to appeal, and to respect the rights to freedom of association and expression,” concluded Ms. Throssell.
Published on the UN News Centre on August 25, 2017 (www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=57415#.WaMzwVcleRs).
The Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) yesterday called for the release of the four jailed Adhoc staffers and one National Election Committee official who have remained in pre-trial detention since last May in a fact sheet criticising the Cambodian government for regularly breaching fair trial rights.
CCHR also criticised prolonged pre-trial detention in general, with the organisation saying the practice “is frequently used in Cambodia”.
CCHR’s fair trial rights project coordinator Hun Seanghak cited in an email the troubling pre-trial detentions of three Mother Nature activists (more than 10 months), Boeung Kak activist Tep Vanny (more than six months) and the four Adhoc officials and National Election Committee member, who as of yesterday “spent 333 days in arbitrary pre-trial detention”.
The fact sheet called on the government to “release the four Adhoc workers and NEC official, as well as other persons illegitimately detained”. But Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan brushed off the criticism, saying CCHR “generalises everything” and was “biased”.
CCHR further argues in the release that Article 98 of the Criminal Procedure Code – which allows a suspect to be held for 24 hours without a lawyer – might infringe the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Siphan again, however, shrugged off the assertion, saying that “to respect [international law] doesn’t mean that it has to be carried out 100 percent”.
Representatives of the Justice Ministry could not be reached yesterday.
Published on the CCHR's website on March 28, 2017.
A civil right is an enforceable right or privilege, which if interfered with by another gives rise to an action for injury. Examples of civil rights are freedom of speech, press, and assembly; the right to vote; freedom from involuntary servitude; and the right to equality in public places. Discrimination occurs when the civil rights of an individual are denied or interfered with because of their membership in a particular group or class. Various jurisdictions have enacted statutes to prevent discrimination based on a person's race, sex, religion, age, previous condition of servitude, physical limitation, national origin, and in some instances sexual orientation.
Source: Cornell University Law School