U.N. official calls for end to political gridlock in Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia, Jan. 17 (UPI) — A United Nations official Friday urged Cambodian government and opposition officials to keep negotiating in an effort to end a political impasse.

At the end of a five-day visit to Cambodia, Surya P. Subedi, the U.N. special rapporteur on the human rights situation in the country, said the political deadlock and social tensions have caused a decline in human rights for all Cambodians, the United Nations said in a release.

In a statement issued by the U.N. Human Rights Office, Subedi said “flexibility on both sides to reach a political compromise is needed.”

Cambodia, he noted, “has to begin its reform agenda, including judicial, electoral and parliamentary reforms” as outlined in his previous reports.

Subedi said his meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen was “frank, cordial and informative.” He praised the prime minister for sending “an important signal to the international community that he is ready and willing to seriously address the human rights issues in the country by extending full cooperation during this visit and engaging in meaningful dialogue.”

However, the United Nations expert noted there has been a “worrying change from a tolerant to a repressive response of the government to public protests.”

Earlier this month, at least four protesters were shot and killed when military police opened fire on striking garment workers in Phnom Penh. The strikers were calling for higher wages. Protests organized by the opposition party calling for the resignation of the prime minister have been ongoing since July.

Subedi called on the Cambodian government Friday to carry out a “thorough, credible and independent investigation” of the fatal shootings, as well as work with the opposition to bring an end to the impasse.

SOURCE www.dalje.com