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Judiciary, Rights Efforts ‘Weak’: UN Rights Envoy

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The Cambodian government rejected a report by the UN’s human rights envoy, who characterized the country’s judicial system and human rights efforts as “weak.”

Suriya Subedi, the UN special rapporteur for human rights, replaces Yash Ghai, who had a prickly relationship with the government and especially Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said Friday Subedi “did not see the whole thing.” He added: “He listened to lazy staffs who work here, and he did not check.”

Subedi said in an October report: “The rule of law is weak in the country. The judiciary is not as independent as it should be. Some of the core political rights such as the freedom of expression and peaceful assembly have been undermined.”

Subedi said Cambodia’s defamation laws have gone beyond a permissible level in restrictions on the freedom of expression under the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Cambodia is a party.

Ny Chakriya, chief of investigation section for the rights group Adhoc, said that in light of the report the government should review its human rights situation.

“It is simple for the government to deny the UN’s report, but the most important thing is for the government to consider what [Subedi] raised in his report,” he said. “The government denial is unacceptable.”

Yim Sovann, spokesman for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, agreed with the report, saying, “many UN representatives in Cambodia are always raising the same human rights issues in Cambodia.”

“The government should improve human rights,” he said.

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