[Editor's note: Kek Galabru, founder of the rights group
Licadho, recently traveled to Geneva, where the
ninth annual meeting of the UN's Human Rights Council is considering whether to
continue the mandate of a UN rights envoy to Cambodia. She spoke to VOA Khmer by
phone from Geneva.]
Q. What is the aim of your trip?
A. I have come to Geneva with
Adhoc president Thun Saray and four other Khmers, who live in the foreign
countries and have helped facilitate our participation in the Human Rights
Council annual meeting in Geneva.
The Human Rights Council is opening a meeting from Sept. 8 until Sept. 23. In
the meeting they will also bring the Cambodia
issue to discussion, regarding the mandate of the UN representative on human rights
We civil society want to see the term of the UN representative to be continued
We don't want to see them cut this term out of Cambodia.
Q. Alongside the discussion about the term of the UN
representative on human rights, what are the specific things that the meeting
is focusing on?
A. In that meeting they are not only focusing on the Cambodian
issue, but they are also talking about children and women's issues, as well as some
other issues. But in that meeting, they have raised our Cambodian issue. We
really want the term of the UN representative on human rights in Cambodia to be
continued, as we know that the Cambodian government doesn't want this mandate
to be continued. So our civil society strives hard to talk about it with the
Human Rights Council members in order to lobby and negotiate with our Cambodian
government so that the Cambodian government can allow the mandate to continue.
Whether the UN representative on human rights can continue its mandate depends
on the Cambodian government's permission.
Q. The Cambodian government plans to close the Office of the
UN High Commissioner on Human Rights in Cambodia. Is the Human Rights
Council in Geneva
reacting to this plan?
A. The permanent Office of the UN High Commissioner on Human
Rights in Cambodia won't be
discussed in this Geneva
meeting. It could be discussed between our government and the United Nations, and
should not be discussed at the Human Rights Council. The Human Rights Council
is talking about the mandate of the UN Special Representative on Human Rights.
We have received unofficial information that perhaps our government won't oppose
this suggestion. But the UN secretary-general, he doesn’t want the UN Special
Representative appointed by him anymore. So he wants to see the UN Special
Rapporteur instead of a UN special representative. For the mandate, we really
want to see that the position of the UN Rapporteur remains the same as the
position of the UN Special Representative’s position, in coming into Cambodia to
monitor the human rights situation and then reporting to the Cambodian
government on how to change those institutions in order to respect human
Q. If the Office of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights
closes, what will be the affect to the civil society and the political
A. We hope that the Office of the UN High Commissioner on
Human Rights in Cambodia
won't close its door. If the government does not allow this office to continue
its work, it will affect a lot to the Cambodia people because we still
have a lot of human rights issue that so far haven't been solved completely. So
we need more cooperation with the UN, we need more technical support and human
resources support. So I think we still need more support from them.