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Cambodia at UN To Defend Rights Record

The United Nations Special Rapporteur for human rights in Cambodia, Surya Subedi, reads from a document during a news conference in central Phnom Penh January 16, 2014. Subedi spoke on ongoing political crisis in Cambodia and said that political reconciliation is the only way forward for the country.

Cambodia’s opposition leader, Sam Rainsy, is currently in Geneva, where the UN Human Rights Committee is reviewing the country’s rights record.

Cambodian government officials are defending their rights record for the second time in four years at the Universal Periodic Review.

Sam Rainsy, who heads the Cambodia National Rescue Party, has been calling for a recall election, following marred voting in July, and for the resignation of Prime Minister Hun Sen. He is currently in Europe to garner more support for the opposition’s claims.

Opposition and labor protests have turned violent in recent weeks, leaving at least four people dead and many more injured, as state security forces continue to crack down on demonstrations.

“He will have a chance to discuss the human rights situation in human rights meetings,” said Yim Sovann, a spokesman for the Rescue Party.

A delegation of at least 12 Cambodian government officials is in Geneva for the meeting, including representatives of the country’s Human Rights Committee and the ministries of Interior and Justice.

Chheang Von, chairman of the National Assembly’s foreign affairs committee, said Sam Rainsy’s presence in Geneva would not affect the review.

“There is no one to prevent his going there,” he said. “But asking me what his influence is, I say it is nothing.”

Rolando Gomez, a spokesman for the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, told VOA Khmer that official statements are reserved for government officials at the review, but the meetings are also open, so Sam Rainsy may attend.

“He can attend and can attend side events, parallel meetings, as he will and certainly listen in the important issues, which are being discussed here in Geneva,” Gomez said.

The review for more than 190 countries will be held from Jan. 27 to Feb. 7. Cambodia will present its report Tuesday afternoon. The last time it do so was four years ago, when the country was given 90 separate recommendations to improve its human rights environment, on issues ranging from land rights to judicial reform.