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Rights Commission: Cambodia Has Peace, Not Freedom

A senior Cambodian researcher for the Asian Human Rights Commission said Thursday Cambodia enjoys peace at the cost of freedom.

His remarks follow the visit of the UN secretary-general's special rights representative to Cambodia, Yash Ghai, after which the envoy said Cambodians lived in fear of the police and the courts and under threat of losing their land and other rights.

Lao Mong Hai said in a statement from Hong Kong Thursday people have been increasingly "robbed of their freedom" since 2003, and have little recourse.

As a member of the United Nations, Cambodia could also seek to solve human rights issues with the international body, Lao Mong Hai said.

Government officials shunned Ghai during his visit earlier this month, and government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said Thursday Lao Mong Hai had spent too much time away from Cambodia to criticize.

"Mr. Lao Mong Hai does not quite look at the law, and that is normal because he does not often stay in the country," Khieu Kanharith said. "Please review the law, review the demonstration law, which has just been passed."

He accused Lao Mong Hai staying in air-conditioned rooms with his "eyes closed."