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Posted by: | Posted on: May 7, 2018

Dedicating 27 articles today before Phnom Penh Post is absorbed away from its professionalism

 Op-Ed: The Phnom Penh Post

Phnom Penh Post Articles

Freedom and the challenges of teen pregnancy in Canada

Email from Canada,

FREEDOM is the lifeblood of human enterprise.  Free-market countries have higher standards of living, social development and productivity levels.  Some, though, contend that freedom is a double-edged sword.

Greater independence from parents and guardians can lead to the creation of a more open, more progressive society in which young people are free to engage their talents and amass practical knowledge.

But some say too much freedom can lead to undisciplined and incompetent adolescents.

In Canada, adolescents enjoy a wide array of freedoms, sexual, romantic and otherwise.  But high teen pregnancy and divorce rates have some policymakers worried.

Still, statistics show that national teen pregnancy rates have been declining.  A study from 1996 to 2006 showed a drop of 37 per cent, compared with a 25 per cent decline in the neighbouring US.

This doesn’t necessarily mean  teenagers are less sexually active.  In fact, a study found about 50      per cent of teens aged 16 and 17 engage in sexual activity.

These findings confirm what has become only too visible in daily life: teens holding hands, hugging, kissing and generally revelling in young love, all in public.

The teen-pregnancy study includes statistics on births, abortions and miscarriages.  The Canadian government views all three outcomes as having a negative impact on society.

If newborns survive the delivery process, teens are often unprepared to act as parents.  And miscarriages and abortions can result in various diseases and complications that can stall the mother’s education and development.

Teen pregnancy affects individuals, families and entire communities, placing a social and economic burden on the whole of society.

According to the study, the welcome decline in teen pregnancy can be attributed to an increase in awareness about sexual health and protection among teenage girls, as well as increasingly easy access to clinics and family planning counsellors.  Young women are using their freedom to make safer decis-ions, entering the adult world of sex and romance armed with more information and more confidence.

The story may be different in Cambodia.  Canada is fairly open to adolescent sexual activity and independent decision-making, but the issue is rarely talked about in Cambodia, where cultural conservatism and embedded tradition keep teenage sexuality under wraps.

For this reason, teen pregnancy rates are higher and show little sign of declining.  Until the Kingdom begins some sort of dialogue on teenage sexuality, young women in Cambodia will continue to have their education interrupted and their freedom curtailed.

About Sophoan Seng
I am the single son of a farming family from Siem Reap. I spent more than 10 years as a Buddhist monk. I graduated with a master’s degree in political science from the University of Hawaii and am a PhD candidate at the same university.

My interests are social-capital research, the empowerment of young people for social change, and grassroots participation to developing democracy. I am a freelance and president of the Khmer Youth Association of Alberta. I can be reached at sophan@hawaii.edu

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Rich Oil-Sands of Alberta, Canada

Emails from Canada: Sophoan Seng

Alberta is well known as a leading exporter of natural resources like timber and oil in Canada. Large foreign companies from the US have invested billions of dollars extracting oil and gas in this territory to make up for the shortage of oil for energy in their country. Oil deposits which are called “oil sands” are very distinctive from what is found in those oil rich countries such as Iran or Saudi Arabia in the Middle East, and the monitoring and regulations of this lucrative industry has never been neglected.

The official website of the Alberta government describes Alberta’s oil sands as the backbone of the Canadian and the global economy, adding it is a great buried energy treasure which has continuously supplied stable and reliable energy to the world. Oil sands are a naturally composed mixture of sand, clay or other minerals, including water and bitumen, which is a heavy and extremely thick, sticky oil that must be treated before it can be processed by refineries to produce usable fuels such as regular gasoline and diesel. Oil sands can be found in many locations around the globe, but the Athabasca deposit in Alberta is the largest and most developed and it has utilised the most advanced technology to produce oil.

Canada’s Facts and Statistics Department has ranked Alberta’s oil sands second after Saudi Arabia in terms of proven global crude oil reserves. In 2009, the total proven oil reserves were 171.3 billion barrels, or about 13 percent of the total global oil reserves, which is about 1,354 billion barrels. The net income in the fiscal year of 2009 for the Alberta government was more than US$3 billion in royalties from oil sands projects, which was lower than 2008 at $20.7 billion. But they project it to skyrocket and revenue to hit $15 billion in the next few years. Ultimately, about 99 percent of Alberta’s oil comes from oil sands.

Responsible corporations and the government’s clear goal and commitment have transformed Alberta oil sands into a blessing, not a curse. All approvals, licences, dispositions, permits and registrations relating to oil sands are required by Alberta’s Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB), Alberta Environment and Alberta Sustainable Resource Development bodies. This enables the comprehensive task of handling oil sands investments.

However, in an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, University of Alberta scientist David Schindler told the public that the high levels of toxic pollutants in the Athabasca River were caused by oil sand mining. Schindler and his team of researchers found that oil sands development projects were contaminating the Athabasca River watershed area. The scientists found that seven “significant pollutants” were at levels that exceeded government guidelines for the protection of aquatic life. This new finding contradicted the government’s previous argument, which had always claimed that the naturally occurring bitumen had low levels of pollution.

After publishing in 2009 the first peer-reviewed paper from Schindler and his team, an ongoing political debate started, the story grabbed the public’s attention and a group of experts was given the job of finding the best solution for this rich oil sands industry. From public and private debates to ones in parliament and political institutions, a solution must be found to ensure the sustainable development of this non-renewable natural resource.

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Jobs and Employment in Canada

Letters from abroad

There is a popular saying that “to live is to work”, and while life is not all about work, the saying seems to hold true in Canada, Cambodia and around the world. Most people cannot live without a job, but the approach from the governments in various countries to the problem of unemployment differs greatly. It might be interesting for you to hear about the ways in which Canada’s government and private sector have intervened in order to help more citizens get jobs and keep the ones they have.

First, there is a growing number of job search agencies who help both new and experienced workers find jobs suitable to their educational background and experiences. Enrolled students learn about networking strategies, curriculum vitae, cover letters and interviewing skills. These agencies also partner with private groups and the government to launch job fairs, which exist in Cambodia on a smaller scale, in order to bring together employers and employees. In fact, I was employed as a result of my participation in a job fair.

Second, the government helps unemployed citizens by providing them with short-term support through both skills training and living expenses. Many unemployed workers are directly subsidized to allow them to maintain a level of strength and professionalism while they search for a new job. The money that funds this program, called the Employment Insurance (EI) program, was deducted from workers’ salary if they worked before.

Read More …

Posted by: | Posted on: April 30, 2018

វិភាគសេដ្ឋកិច្ចពីវិនិយោគចិននៅសកម្ពុជា / Chinese investments in Cambodia

Op-Ed: Phnom Penh Post

៣០ មេសា ២០១៨ / 30 April 2018

វិភាគសេដ្ឋកិច្ចពីវិនិយោគចិន នៅសកម្ពុជា / Chinese investments in Cambodia (*)

គេថាវិនិយោគចិន នៅប្រទេសកម្ពុជា ឈរលើកិច្ចសន្យា « ឈ្នះ ឈ្នះ » តែមានភាគីមួយទៀត ដែលទទួលការបង់ខាត គឺប្រជារាស្ត្រខ្មែរ

ថ្មីៗនេះ លោកនាយករដ្ឋមន្ត្រី ហ៊ុន សែន បានលើកតម្កើងវិនិយោគចិន នៅប្រទេសកម្ពុជា ថាមានប្រយោជន៍ធំធេងណាស់ សម្រាប់ស្រុកយើង។ តែខ្ញុំសូមធ្វើការកត់សម្គាល់ដូចតទៅ។

The entrance to Kratie University flanked with Chinese and Cambodian flags in a photo posted on Facebook last week.

The entrance to Kratie University flanked with Chinese and Cambodian flags in a photo posted on Facebook last week.

បញ្ហាចម្បង ទាក់ទងវិនិយោគចិន នៅប្រទេសកម្ពុជា គឺការខ្វះតម្លាភាព ដែលនាំមកនូវអំពើពុករលួយ ទាំងខាងភាគីវិនិយោគិនចិន ទាំងខាងភាគីមន្ត្រីជាន់ខ្ពស់រដ្ឋាភិបាល។ គេថាវិនិយោគទាំងនេះ ឈរលើកិច្ចសន្យា « ឈ្នះ ឈ្នះ » សម្រាប់ភាគីទាំងពីរ តែមានភាគីមួយទៀត ដែលទទួលការបង់ខាត គឺប្រជារាស្ត្រខ្មែរ ដែលមិនមានសិទ្ធិសម្តែងមតិ។

សព្វដង វិនិយោគពីបរទេស តែងតែផ្តល់ការងារឲ្យប្រជាពលរដ្ឋក្នុងស្រុក តែចំពោះវិនិយោគចិន នៅប្រទេសកម្ពុជាវិញ គ្មានផ្តល់ការងារអ្វី ឲ្យប្រជាពលរដ្ឋខ្មែរទេ ពីព្រោះវិនិយោគិនចិន គេនាំពលកររបស់គេ មកពីប្រទេសចិន ហើយប្រាក់ខែបើកឲ្យពលករបរទេសទាំងនោះ ត្រូវផ្ទេរទៅប្រទេសចិនវិញ។

សព្វដងទៀត មានការផ្ទេរបច្ចេកវិទ្យា ពីប្រទេសជឿនលឿន មកប្រទេសអន់ថយ តាមរយៈវិនិយោគ ពីប្រទេសមួយទៅប្រទេសមួយ តែចំពោះវិនិយោគចិន នៅកម្ពុជា គឺគ្មានការផ្ទេរបច្ចេកវិទ្យាអ្វីមកស្រុកយើងទេ ពីព្រោះពួកចិន គេធ្វើអ្វីៗទាំងអស់តែខ្លួនគេ ហើយគេនឹងវិលត្រឡប់ទៅស្រុកគេវិញ ក្រោយពីបញ្ចប់ការដ្ឋានរបស់គេនៅស្រុកយើង។

ពេលដែលពលករទាំងអស់ ត្រូវបាននាំមកពីប្រទេសចិន ពលករខ្មែរ មិនមានឱកាសទទួលបានការបណ្តុះបណ្តាលវិជ្ជាជីវៈអ្វីទេ ហើយស្រុកយើងក៏គ្មានឱកាសអភិវឌ្ឍធនធានមនុស្សរបស់យើងឡើយ។ លោក ហ៊ុន សែន លើកឡើងថា វិនិយោគិនចិន ត្រូវតែនាំពលកររបស់គេ ពីស្រុកចិនមកប្រទេសកម្ពុជា ពីព្រោះស្រុកយើងខ្វះធនធានមនុស្ស ហើយមិនអាចរកពលករមានជំនាញវិជ្ជាជីវៈបានទេ។ ការលើកឡើងរបស់លោក ហ៊ុន សែន បែបនេះ មានន័យថាគាត់ចង់ឲ្យប្រទេសកម្ពុជា នៅតែអន់ថយជាងគេជានិច្ចកាល ដោយស្ថិតក្នុងភាពល្ងង់ខ្លៅ ភាពក្រីក្រ និងភាពរំពឹងលើគេជានិច្ចកាល។

យើងកត់សម្គាល់ថែមទៀតថា ប្រទេសចិន ផ្តល់ជំនួយឲ្យយើងដៃម្ខាង តែដៃម្ខាងទៀតគេប្រមូលពីយើងវិញយ៉ាងសន្ធឹកសន្ធាប់ តាមរយៈសម្បទានដីធ្លី សម្បទានព្រៃឈើ និងសម្បទានរ៉ែ និងតាមរយៈកិច្ចសន្យាចំណេញកប់ក្តោង ដោយគ្មានហានិភ័យអ្វី ដោយសារមានការធានា មិនឲ្យបង់ខាត ពីរដ្ឋាភិបាលកម្ពុជា ដូចជាក្នុងវិស័យវារីអគ្គិសនី ជាដើម។

ចំពោះទេសចរណ៍ មកពីប្រទេសចិនវិញ ក៏គេមិនត្រូវការពលករ និងអាជីវករខ្មែរដែរ ពីព្រោះក្រុមហ៊ុនចិន ជាអ្នកចាត់ចែងអ្វីៗទាំងអស់ សម្រាប់ទេសចរណ៍ចិន ដែលមកទស្សនាប្រទេសកម្ពុជា។ ដូច្នេះ ប្រជារាស្ត្រខ្មែរ មិនចំណេញអ្វីពីទេសចរណ៍ចិនទេ ដែលមកស្រុកយើងភ្លូកទឹកភ្លូកដី តែប្រទេសកម្ពុជាទទួលការបង់ខាត ផ្នែកបរិស្ថាន និងសង្គម ដោយសារទេសចរណ៍បែបនេះ។

លោក ហ៊ុន សែន គាត់ត្រូវការការគាំទ្រពីប្រទេសចិន ដើម្បីជួយការពាររបបផ្តាច់ការ និងពុករលួយរបស់គាត់ ពីព្រោះប្រទេសចិន មិនគិតពីប្រជាធិបតេយ្យ សិទ្ធិមនុស្ស និងអភិបាលកិច្ចល្អទេ នៅស្រុកណាដែលគេមកវិនិយោគ។ តែចំពោះលោក ហ៊ុន សែន គាត់បង្ហាញពីកង្វះខាត ក្នុងការយល់ដឹងក្នុងវិស័យសេដ្ឋកិច្ច ហើយគាត់ក៏មិនអើពើ ពីផលប្រយោជន៍ប្រទេសកម្ពុជាឡើយ។

សម រង្ស៊ី
ប្រធានចលនាសង្គ្រោះជាតិ

(*) The Phnom Penh Post, 30 April 2018

Chinese investments in Cambodia are win-win-lose, and guess who’s the loser

By Sam Rainsy

Editor,

Following The Post’s article titled Hun Sen comes to China’s defence, praises investment and development aid (April 26), I would like to make the following remarks.

The main problem with Chinese investments is their complete lack of transparency, which favours corruption among both Chinese investors and Cambodian government officials. These investments generally consist of “win-win-lose” arrangements, with the Cambodian people being the silent loser.

Read More …

Posted by: | Posted on: April 7, 2018

THE DUMPLING SHOP OWNER AT THE CENTER OF AN AUTHORITARIAN CRACKDOWN

THE DUMPLING SHOP OWNER AT THE CENTER OF AN AUTHORITARIAN CRACKDOWN

BY JUSTIN HIGGINBOTTOM

The experiment in democracy that is modern Cambodia seems to have hit a bump in the road. Actually, if Cambodian democracy were a car, it would be in a rice-field ditch and the villagers (and international observers) smelling smoke. Twenty-five years after the United Nations Transitional Authority ended its stewardship of the country, and despite having a new constitution, years of relatively free elections and billions of dollars in foreign aid, residents are effectively living under single-party rule. The question on people’s minds is what comes next — a tow truck or an explosion.

One interested observer is Sin Rozeth. The 34-year-old former commune chief and once rising political star was given the same choice as other members of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party: defect to another party (preferably the ruling Cambodian People’s Party) or get out of politics. Rozeth chose the latter — she opened a dumpling restaurant in her old stomping grounds after the CNRP was forcibly dissolved in November — while looking for a way forward in the face of Cambodia’s increasingly totalitarian environment.

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Sin Rozeth is among those stars of 2007 elect-commune councils who have been speaking the language of bottom line people of Cambodia. They are working as the underdogs to reflect and reduce the autocrats and their children of family elites. Like Rozeth, other young politicians such as Chin Sok Ngeng (Siem Reap) Mao Phally (Kampong Chhnang) Siek Chamnab (Siem Reap), just mention a few, they are the future leader, the catalyst of change, and the agent of change, for Cambodia.

Sin Rozeth is among those stars of 2007 elect-commune councils who have been speaking the language of bottom line people of Cambodia. They are working as the underdogs to reflect and reduce the autocrats and the children of family elites. Like Rozeth, other young politicians such as Chin Sok Ngeng (Siem Reap),
Mao Phally (Kampong Chhnang),
Siek Chamnab (Siem Reap), just mention a few, they are the future leader, the catalyst of change, and the agent of change, for Cambodia.

Rozeth opened a restaurant to support her mother, and to make up for the loss of her meager public salary. But her accusers say it’s a front for illegal political activities. “If this restaurant is used as a place to gather fire, it is really dangerous for Rozeth and it should not be tolerated,” Chheang Vun, a ruling party lawmaker, posted on Facebook. In response to claims that she’s harboring “rebels,” Rozeth hung a banner outside: “Rozeth’s shop welcomes all guests, but not rebels.” The tongue-in-cheek gesture earned her a reprimand by the city governor, who warned that using such language could damage the kingdom’s reputation. Rozeth says she feels threatened by the ongoing harassment, and a group of former CNRP members sent letters to several international bodies, including the United Nations Human Rights Committee, seeking help in pressuring the government to stop the “bullying.”

In the short term, at least, one-party rule will continue in Cambodia, says Sophal Ear, professor of diplomacy and world affairs at Occidental College. And mounting new opposition will be difficult. ”It’s like razing an old grove forest,” he explains. “You’re not going to get 100-year-old trees. You’ll have young trees, and they’ll be easy to bulldoze if they get too strong.” National elections are scheduled for this summer, and it’s unclear whether CNRP’s former supporters will turn toward another party or abstain from voting, says Sinthay Neb, director of the Advocacy and Policy Institute in Phnom Penh. Whatever happens, he believes the best way forward is for both sides to meet and work together — however unlikely.

For now, Rozeth refuses to give up: “As long as one still has breath, there is still hope for democracy.” She stays busy traveling to villages to perform charity work (this too, she says, is closely monitored). And she helps people who come to her shop, even if it’s only for a good meal.

Before I leave the noodle shop — which has filled with the evening crowd — I take a few photographs of the owner. Other patrons notice and pull out their phones. Seems they all want a selfie with the politician turned restaurateur now under fire.

Continue to read this whole article at OZY…

Posted by: | Posted on: April 7, 2018

Can Cambodia’s fractured opposition survive?

Can Cambodia’s fractured opposition survive?

 PHNOM PENH, APRIL 5, 2018 3:48 PM (UTC+8)

In America, where many former CNRP officials now find themselves in exile, members of each clique have shared platforms and speaking engagements.

Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha have become figure of change against the status-quo of Hun Sen. The perpetual attempts of Hun Sen to divide them both has been in vain that leading to Hun Sen's aggressive paranoia to dissolve this party. The author must comprehend this moment that from what Hun Sen did in dissolving the CNRP, the unity and awareness have become greater and sounder in directing this force to bring back Cambodia's democracy, rule of laws, justice, wealth share fairness, social trust, and sustainable development.

Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha have become figure of change against the status-quo of Hun Sen. The perpetual attempts of Hun Sen to divide them both has been in vain that leading to Hun Sen’s aggressive paranoia to dissolve this party. The author must comprehend this moment that from what Hun Sen did in dissolving the CNRP, the unity and awareness have become greater and sounder in directing this force to bring back Cambodia’s democracy, rule of laws, justice, wealth share fairness, social trust, and sustainable development.

“Is the spirit of the CNRP still alive? Of course it’s still alive. The CNRM intends to be a placeholder for when the CNRP is reconstituted,” says Sophal Ear, associate professor of diplomacy and world affairs at Occidental College at Los Angeles.

The Cambodia National Rescue Party – North America (CNRP-NA), composed of chapters from different American states, was formed after the HRP and SRP merged in 2012. It was formerly the SRP-NA.

But, in 2014, a number of members and state chapters, supposedly those loyal to the HRP, broke away to create the CNRP-USA. Today, this group appears to have remained loyal to those who want to remain under the CNRP banner.

But Phan Prak, a representative of the CNRP-USA, says the organization “is not against the CNRM nor have we ever supported it. The CNRP-USA respects an individual to exercise their rights to join any organizations as they wish.”

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While there are attempts by government-aligned media to portray divisions within the opposition as a sign of its feebleness, another interpretation is that internal disputes ought to be welcomed in any pro-democracy party or movement.

Indeed, a positive reading of current events is that voices ignored in the past are now being allowed to air their thoughts and grievances. Some political analysts think this is an opportunity for a younger generation of opposition figures to emerge.

“It is so important for the opposition party to have new blood in its leadership. Leaders in the opposition party should be the mentors for the new blood,” says Noan Sereiboth, a political blogger.

There are some indications that is happening. Kem Sokha’s eldest daughter, Kem Monovithya, 36, has been one of the most active and vocal figures, meeting with US senators last month and Japanese officials last week. She declined to comment for this article.

At the same time, analysts say there is the danger that if infighting continues there will only be one winner: Hun Sen. If fissures go unresolved then it would be the “nail in the coffin of the one formula that seemed to work: the creation of a unified opposition,” says academic Sophal Ear.

Continue to read this article in Asia Times…

Posted by: | Posted on: March 24, 2018

Is this the act of victims are victimized?

Dear Respectful Members,

This thread is to express my deep sorry and frustration that because of what I mentioned about “PM Hun Sen didn’t appear in the group photo because he said he was at the toilet?” that made Louk Pu BA faced removing from the Campro group (link 1, link 2). Whatever reasons his removal is referred to, I think that, this action is just a paralleled “victims are victimized” conduction in Cambodia society.

Eisenhower word Observing from those most fundamental activities to the most essential practises on national stage, they are showing us (the underdogs) the path to its evilization that we should shoulder to deevilize them, if possible. Parents have victimized their children by just their excuse “I am your father/mother”, neighbours have victimized children through their funny bullying behaviours, and state leaders have used laws for their advantage to suppress the victims of land grabs and incompetence of the courts and dissents etc.
With the below attached threads, we might get some more info on what Pu BA is facing. He emailed me privately to anticipate my claims of PM Hun Sen was busy in toilet allowing the eminent leaders of Australia-ASEAN took group photo without him. I think Pu BA is among those Cambodian-Australians who were affected by the outrageous life threatening by PM Hun Sen’s public speech. Some sarcastic words of Pu BA towards PM Hun Sen is not been comparable to what PM Hun Sen has used state’s medium to denounce, to scold, to threat, and to anticipate grip of intimidation towards those dissents against him, at all.
I have always described the “victims are victimized” as a social failure in Cambodia. This activity has run underneath social fabric and caused our future short and FB_IMG_1521561535184unsustainable. Once, the conviction was laid that “While the Western countries believe in giving space and liberty to their citizens to bravely speak up their voice and fully engage in social development in the hope of long term survival of their motherland, Cambodia is in dichotomous effort by the government. This historical and remarkable contrast has happened since Cambodian people protest against the additional border treaty with Vietnam in 2005, many of them were arrested and jailed, once Prime Minister Hun Sen promised to make coffins for those who dare to claim back Khmer Krom lost land for Cambodia, and with many other occasions including banning Alex from his campaign to protect the Cambodia forests, is seen as an attempt to threat those bottom line people activism who are working to protect their lands and forests and to open way or encourage the wrong doers such as land grab activities, deforestation and logging, and forced eviction etc. to continue their wrong deeds without obstacles” (original link).
As some of the members said, in our discussion group, there are variety of speeches, sarcasms, threats(sic), and harsh exchanges etc. but at thHun Sen at Sydney alone alwayse end, this is how the wise have learnt to accept, to tolerate, and to exchange knowledge within a healthy multi-cultural setting. Some regulations and rules are good in producing healthy multi-cultural society, but some are just tools for the controllers to exercise their own biased territory. So let be frank in ourselves and treat things fairly and credibly.
I would like to plea Louk Sophal to explain more reasons to deleting/removing Pu BA from the group. With two warnings will become completely removing is still redundant. This practice has placed all other members at stake and reduced the quality of goals and definition and mission statement set within Campro by all members. Pou BA should be asked for his volunteering stance of view rather than being dictated towards him. And he should be reinstated.
Thank you very much for your kind consideration.
Sophoan
Posted by: | Posted on: March 22, 2018

Joint Statement on the Human Rights Situation in Cambodia

Op-Ed: Geneva Switzerland

Item 2 General Debate
37th Session of the Human Rights Council
Geneva, March 21, 2018

Mr. President,

New Zealand 1 New Zealand makes this statement on behalf of a group of 45 countries; the full version of the statement and the list of supporting delegations will be published on the extranet.

The international community has provided strong support for the development of democracy in Cambodia during the twenty-five years since the Constitution of Cambodia enshrined liberal multi-party democracy.  Over the intervening decades, we have applauded the progress Cambodia had made since the signing of the Paris Peace Agreements in 1991.  Positive indictors included a relatively successful national election in 2013, and communal elections in 2017.

As we near the elections scheduled for 29 July this year, our previous optimism has been replaced by deep concern about the recent serious decline of civil and political rights in Cambodia.  These backward steps include signs of escalating repression of the political opposition, civil society and media. We share the concerns highlighted by the High Commissioner and the Special Rapporteur about actions taken by the Cambodian government that will undermine the conduct of credible, free and fair elections in July.  For the Cambodian Government to retain its legitimacy, any elections must be free, fair and credible.

International human rights treaties ratified by Cambodia and the Constitution of Cambodia guarantee, and the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration affirms the rights of freedom of expression, freedom of association, and of citizens to participate in government through free, fair and credible elections that are periodic and transparent. However, we note with particular concern that in recent months:New Zealand 2

  • There has been a significant clampdown on the press and civil society across the country, including the closure or suspension of several NGOs and independent media companies;
  • The Cambodia National Rescue Party leader Kem Sokha was detained on 3 September 2017, and since then has been deprived of his rights including access to his lawyers, and the right to defend himself through legal assistance of his own choosing.
  • The court’s continued unwillingness to release Kem Sokha on bail during judicial proceedings is of concern especially in light of his deteriorating health.
  • The CNRP was dissolved by the Supreme Court on 16 November, 118 CNRP members were banned from political activity for five years, and the CNRP’s local and national seats were reallocated to unelected members of the ruling and other parties.

We are particularly concerned about the conditions under which opposition leader Kem Sokha is being detained following his arbitrary arrest: he is reportedly in isolation, without adequate access to health care, subjected to intrusive observation, and other conditions, such as constant light.  We call for the immediate release of all political prisoners, including Kem Sokha.

We urge Cambodia to:

  • Reinstate the CNRP and all elected members to their national and communal seats, and to
  • Repeal the amendments to the Law on Political Parties which provided for expansive grounds for the dissolution of political parties.

An electoral process from which the main democratic opposition party has been arbitrarily excluded cannot be considered genuine or legitimate.

We call on the Royal Government of Cambodia to take all measures necessary, before it is too late, to ensure that the 2018 elections are free, fair and credible.  In particular, we urge that the elections take place in a peaceful environment without threats, arbitrary arrests or acts of intimidation, and that all international human rights obligations important for successful elections, such as rights to freedom of expression, press, association and peaceful assembly, are respected, protected and fulfilled.

Further, we urge the Royal Government of Cambodia to refrain from using judicial, administrative and fiscal measures as political tools against the opposition, the media, civil society and human rights defenders and to further revise: the Law on Associations and NGOs (LANGO); the Law on Trade Unions; the Cambodian Criminal Code; and recent amendments to the Constitution. The political environment must be one in which opposition parties, civil society and media can function are able to carry out their legitimate roles without fear, threats or arbitrary restrictions.

We were heartened by the UN Special Rapporteur on Cambodia’s country visit that took place from 5-14 March.  We strongly encourage the government of Cambodia to pay close attention to the Special Rapporteur’s recommendations from her recent visit. In this regard, we urge Cambodia to take all necessary measures to prevent and deter acts of intimidate and reprisals against those cooperating with the UN human rights mechanisms, including human rights defenders and other civil society actors. We stand ready to support the implementation of assistance that will strengthen Cambodia’s democratic systems.

We urge the continued attention of the international community to the current situation in Cambodia, and we will look to further consideration by the Human Rights Council if the human rights situation does not improve in the lead up to the elections in July. We encourage the High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide an update on the situation in Cambodia in an inter-sessional briefing ahead of the June session of the Human Rights Council.

As Cambodia continues along the path of development, we urge the government to fulfill human rights obligations and commitments, in furtherance of a genuine liberal multi-party democracy as envisaged in the Constitution of Cambodia for the benefit of all Cambodians.

Thank you Mr. President.

New Zealand 3 New Zealand 4 New Zealand 5

 

 

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