PHNOM PENH —
The United Nations’ special rapporteur on human rights will visit Cambodia next week, a UN spokesman has said.
Rhona Smith’s visit follows the release of four jailed human rights workers and an election official in June.
UN officials this week remained tight-lipped about the purpose and scope of Smith’s visit to Cambodia. Human rights groups said Smith would likely meet with civil society and government officials to discuss allegations of rights violations, land rights, and torture.
They added that Smith would also examine the effects of recent amendments to the law governing political parties that prohibit parties from associating with convicts.
Am Sam Ath, a monitoring manager at local rights group Licadho, said Smith would first seek to review issues covered during her last visit to the country and “look into the current situation of freedom of speech, rights, land disputes and human rights violations, as well as the political situation in Cambodia.”
Som Chankea, a spokesman for Adhoc, where the four released rights workers are employed, said human rights in Cambodia had seen a downturn of late, which explained why UN rights officials were planning to visit.
He added that it would not be easy for Smith to meet with officials as the government had shown it was less willing to engage with the UN, which it has accused of violating Cambodia’s sovereignty.
On her previous visit to Cambodia, in October, Smith focused on the use of the courts to jail members of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party.