Amnesty International and rights group Licadho in a joint statement yesterday called on UN member states to “address the country’s human rights crisis” at a UN Human Rights Council hearing in Geneva on Tuesday.
The statement, which was sent to foreign embassies, the Cambodian government and country missions in Geneva, said that since the groups made a series of recommendations in mid-2013, the human rights situation has deteriorated significantly.
Since the beginning of 2014, the statement reads, “respect for human rights in Cambodia – including the treatment of human rights defenders – has worsened significantly to the point of crisis”.
The two rights groups proposed that foreign countries press Cambodia on four issues during the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) session.
UN member states should call for a “prompt and fair bail appeal for the 23 individuals arrested at demonstrations in Phnom Penh on 2 and 3 January 2014,” and adequate medical care for the detained, the statement said.
They should also call on Cambodia to end the security forces’ “use of excessive force” against protesters, conduct an impartial and thorough investigation into the violence, provide victims compensation and lift the ban on public assembly, which “has no legal basis”.
Governments are required to report to the council every four and a half years on what actions they have taken to improve human rights and fulfill their international obligations in an interactive session with other member states. Cambodia’s last review was in December 2009.
Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said yesterday that the recommendations would be considered in the context of Cambodian law.
“Law and order needs to be maintained and restored. All parties need to respect the rule of law and due process. The recommendations will be considered according to Cambodian law, taking into account the need to ensure security,” he said.
“We never abuse our constitution. Demonstrations have to be in line with the demonstration law.”