25 September 2013 – Following the general elections in Cambodia in July, the Government must now ensure that the National Assembly is truly representative to promote a successful transition to democracy, a United Nations independent expert said today.
“Every country that undergoes a transition to democracy faces a moment when the rules must change. Cambodia is facing such a moment now,” said the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the country, Surya P. Subedi.
On Sunday, the Cambodian National Assembly opened with the presence of only one party. However, Mr. Subedi argued that the Assembly should be represented by the two key parties, as the widely disputed election results indicate that “roughly half of the population voted for one party and half for the other.”
“It is critical for the new National Assembly to be represented by the two key parties, for the National Assembly to be truly representative of the whole of the Cambodian people and for it to be concluded that the right to vote was effectively exercised on 28 July,” he said.
Mr. Subedi urged that dialogue continue at an appropriate decision-making level, with a view to resolving the current impasse without further delay. He also reiterated his call for calm and restraint.
The Special Rapporteur noted the general restraint exercised by the Cambodian authorities in the use of force in the past weeks, but said he was “gravely concerned” by what he described as “indiscriminate and excessive use of force” in several recent incidents, and urged authorities to allow future demonstrations to proceed without undue restrictions.
“I continue to believe that the leaders of Cambodia can still, even at this late stage, make this election a milestone in the journey to making Cambodia a just, equitable, and free society,” Mr. Subedi said. “It is my sincere hope that in the process, the situation will be resolved without further loss of life, and that the will of the people will be reflected in the new governance structure that will lead the country on its path to a true democracy.”
Mr. Subedi today presented his fifth report to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council, which includes recommendations to the Government. “My reports on judicial, parliamentary and electoral reform can serve as guidelines to parliamentarians from both political parties as the country takes the road towards a fuller liberal democracy underpinned by sustainable peace and equitable economic development,” he added.
Independent experts or special rapporteurs are appointed by the Council to examine and report back, in an unpaid capacity, on specific human rights themes.