Members of the opposition joined with local rights groups in supporting the UN's local human rights office, a day after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called it a “valuable resource.”
The Cambodian government has said it wants to close the rights office, and Prime Minister Hun Sen told UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon he wanted the office head in Cambodia to be sacked.
But Clinton said on a visit here Monday the office provided technical assistance to the government and NGOs. “We think the work is important and we'd like to see it continue,” Clinton said.
Yim Sovann, a spokesman for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, welcomed the support and said the office was necessary to monitor ongoing rights abuses in the country.
“The human rights situation in Cambodia compared to the past is deteriorating,” he said.
Pung Chiv Kek, president of the rights group Licadho, said the UN rights office provided resources to Cambodians and the government.
Keeping it open would provide “good results and reputation for the Cambodian government,” she said.
Thun Saray, head of the rights group Adhoc, said the closure of the office would “make concerns and hesitation from the international community in providing aid to Cambodia.”
Addressing concerns over the office on Monday, Foreign Minister Hor Namhong told reporters the government has not made a decision on whether to close the office.