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Rights Problems Remain: UN Envoy

Cambodians still struggle with land disputes and displacement, while the three branches of government remain entangled, the UN’s special human rights envoy to Cambodia told reporters Thursday.

Surya Subedi was in Cambodia for 10 days to assess the human rights conditions in Cambodia, in his first visit to the country. While recognizing some progress, he said non-governmental agencies needed to be strengthened to properly monitor government activities.

Work was needed to strengthen the rule of law, clearly separate the power between the three branches of government and to protect the independence of the judiciary, he said.

“Addressing issues such as impunity, conflicts over land and control of corruption will contribute to the building of a more stable democratic nation and equitable prosperity in the country,” he said.

Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said the remarks of the rights representative were “more positive” than his predecessor, Yash Ghai, whose relationship with the government severely deteriorated after strong remarks about rights abuses.

The government was working on reforming the judiciary and curbing land grabbing, he said.

Ou Vireak, president of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, agreed with Subedi’s remarks, saying Cambodia’s judiciary remained unreformed and land issues continue to loom large.

Surya Subedi, the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Cambodia, holds a press conference in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday, June 25, 2009. Surya Subedi is on a ten day official visit to Cambodia, which June 15-25, 2009.