NEW YORK (July 22, 2014) — The United Nations expert on the situation of human rights in Cambodia today welcomed the agreement reached between the two main political parties in the country, which was followed by the release of the opposition party members arrested last week.
“The two parties have finally found common ground, in the best interests of the Cambodian people. They deserve our congratulations, and the Cambodian people to enjoy a moment of celebration,” said Special Rapporteur Surya P. Subedi.
He noted in a news release that the agreement reached on the National Election Committee indicates “the beginning of the true work of reforming” and provides “an opportunity to carry out a comprehensive reform of lasting character in line with international standards.”
Having produced four substantial reports with a thorough analysis of the situation of human rights and the challenges that Cambodia urgently needs to address, the UN expert encouraged the two parties to continue working together. He stressed the importance of strengthening the electoral, judicial and parliamentary regulations with responsibilities for human rights implementation and independent monitoring.
While hailing the efforts of both parties to reach an agreement, Mr. Subedi also expressed concerns over the future of the seven Parliament members-elect and an activist from the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) who were released on bail this morning but still face serious charges that can be used against them at any time.
“While I welcome the end of the detention of the CNRP members and their supporter, I remain concerned about the inability of the judiciary to serve as a check on the executive power, as clearly illustrated by the events of the past days. Instead of being a check, the judiciary appears to be acting as a tool of the executive.”
The Rapporteur called on Cambodian politicians to promptly launch the judicial reform that was promised by both parties to their voters during the elections last year, noting that it is “now not only possible and inevitable,” with CNRP members in the National Assembly, “but also absolutely crucial.”
Mr. Subedi was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council in March 2009 to follow and report on the human rights situation in Cambodia. He serves in an independent and unpaid capacity.