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Rights Situation Comes Under UN Review

As Cambodia undergoes a review at the UN’s Human Rights Council in Geneva, Human Rights Watch said Tuesday member states should be concerned over recent deteriorations of basic freedoms.

Under the Human Rights Council, member states are reviewed every four years. In a submission to the council, Human Rights Watch underscored political violence, impunity for senior government officials in serious rights abuses, forced evictions and land confiscation, among others.

In the past year there’s been a sharp regression in Cambodia’s respect for basic rights, with major setbacks in press freedom and a harsh crackdown on government critics,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Countries should ask Cambodia why it uses repressive tactics to silence peaceful dissent, while thrusting the poor even further into poverty by condoning illegal land grabbing.”

The government increasingly uses the judicial system to muzzle journalists, human rights defenders, and opposition party members, who face charges of criminal defamation and disinformation, Human Rights Watch said.

Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith denied the group’s assertions, claiming Cambodia has 3,000 local non-governmental organizations, as well as media outlets that do not suffer attacks on their freedoms.

The Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee, meanwhile, said it supported the review process, a new rights monitoring mechanism.

The coalition of 21 NGOs appealed to the government to “pay more attention in order to ensure full compliance of all international covenants and conventions in relation to human rights of which Cambodia is a party to and has ratified.”

The coalition urged the government to take considerations of the Human Rights Council’s recommendations to promote freedoms and the respect of human rights.