Prime Minister Hun Sen continued a public campaign against the UN’s human rights office Monday, saying the international body should stop spending money in Cambodia.
“The UN should take all this budget to victims in areas such as Kenya, Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, or other countries facing crises, rather than wasting money in Cambodia,” Hun Sen said.
The latest row comes on the heels of a December visit by Yash Ghai, an envoy for the UN secretary-general, who was highly critical of the government’s rights efforts.
Hun Sen said Monday UN member states should not have to finance trips by Ghai.
“He rides in airplanes and stays at hotels; where does the money come from?” Hun Sen said. “This money is more than a salary. This money is still the UN’s money, and we are also a member of the UN that must also pay membership dues to the UN. We have a duty to appeal for saving the budget, to be spent in other areas, rather than having Yash Ghai traveling to Cambodia.”
Ghai rankled officials in December when he said weak rule of law and ongoing theft of land from the disenfranchised could cause people to rise up against the government.
Human Rights Party President Kem Sokha said Monday that Hun Sen should solve rights abuses and land grabs and solve murders for which no culprit is ever found.
“If he does not want the UN human rights envoy to come to Cambodia, and he regrets the fact that money is wasted, he should solve human rights violations in Cambodia,” Kem Sokha said.
Eng Chhay Eang, secretary-general of the Sam Rainsy Party, said Monday Hun Sen should worry more about the increasing price of goods and fuel and rising unemployment.
“The problem over the UN should not be an issue to bring a headache, whether it has enough money in protecting human rights in Cambodia,” he said.
Cambodia still needs funding for “strengthening human rights mechanisms,” said Thun Saray, director of the rights group Adhoc.