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Foreign Minister Defends Cambodia’s Rights Record

Cambodia Foreign Minister Previews Upcoming UN Speech
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Shortly after a speech in New York by US President Barack Obama, in which he applauded the efforts of human rights defenders, Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong says his country is making progress.

Obama acknowledged the work of two Cambodian rights activist during a speech at the Clinton Global Initiative’s annual meeting last week, including mention of the slain forestry activist Chut Wutty.

Chut Wutty was shot dead in the forest of Koh Kong in 2012 by police, following an altercation at a checkpoint. He was escorting two journalists through an area infamous for illegal logging. The details of his death remain unclear, and his supporters say the true killer has never been brought to justice.

In an interview with VOA Khmer in New York Saturday, Hor Namhong said the government does investigate such crimes and that it is not uncommon, anywhere, for some crimes to go unsolved.

“In the US, it’s the same,” he said. “Countries around the world are the same. There are a lot of crimes that happen, and they are not solved. It’s not only Cambodia at all.”

He also defended, more broadly, Cambodia’s rights efforts, pointing to the high number of NGOs in the country, as well as media that criticize the government.

“Where in the world are there countries that allow this?” he said. “As long as we have many human rights activists, we still have problems. If we didn’t have problems, those NGOs don’t have jobs. So, to keep jobs, they must find something to speak out on and to find problems with human rights.”