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Universal Periodic Review – MEDIA BRIEF

Tuesday, 28 January 2014 (afternoon)

(Disclaimer: The following brief is not an official record, provides a brief factual summary of the UPR Working Group meeting with the State under review, and does not cover all points addressed)

State under review

Cambodia
Represented by 12-member delegation headed by Mr. MAK Sambath, Vice-Chair of the National Human Rights Committee.

Documents

To access national report, compilation of UN information, and summary of stakeholders’ information, visit
the Cambodia page on the UPR website.

Troika *

Morocco, the Philippines, Italy.

Opening statement by State under review

Few points raised in the  opening statement of State under review:
(See full statement on the Cambodia page on the UPR Extranet **)

  • At its first UPR in December 2009 the Cambodian delegation received 91 recommendations. As a result the Government set up an inter-governmental working group to follow up on the outcome of this first meeting;
  • Cambodia has ratified nine international conventions and organized two seminars to examine the possibility of ratifying the optional protocols to the ICCPR and the OP to the ICESCR;
  • The head of delegation noted that there was no need to extend a standing invitation to Special Procedures as they were welcome to visit Cambodia at any time;
  • At present there were a number of organizations working on human rights issues in Cambodia including the Human Rights and Complaints Commission of the National Assembly, the Cambodia Human Rights Committee and an office of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights;
  • On the land reform issue, the Government continued to register all types of land aiming to strengthen the safety of land ownership ensuring the confidence and effectiveness of land use. To date, the Government has registered over 2.8 million land title deeds for 500,000 families;
  • The Government recognized the illegal land ownership on a provisional basis of the people waiting until they can find a legal location to reside;
  • Regarding the land of indigenous people, the Government had a policy, regulations, laws and formalities to protect and recognize the land rights of the indigenous community;
  • The Government continued to carry out deep reforms on legal and judiciary issues and has adopted 416 laws aimed to enhance the legal framework. The Government also endeavoured to enact additional laws related to the judiciary system within the first semester of 2014;
  • The election of the national assembly for a fifth mandate was conducted on 28 July 2013. Following recommendations received from the EU and the UN Special Rapporteur, among others, the Government called on the Ministry of Interior to organize a national workshop seeking to draft electoral reforms;
  • The Government encouraged civil society organisations and NGOs working to serve the people across the country and welcomed their participation to restore and develop the socio-economy and to promote democracy and human rights. The Government drafted a law on associations and NGOs which was approved unanimously;
  • The Government permitted civil society organisations to hold public forums that provided a platform for expressing their opinions freely. There were a number of NGOs in the country working to educate, disseminate and provide training on human rights issues throughout the country;
  • The Government drafted a law which endeavoured to establish a national human rights institution in compliance with the Paris Principles and, to this end, sought to initiate a national workshop to gather input recommendations from various experts to improve this draft law which will eventually be submitted to the Council of Ministers for further legal action.

Participants

In total 76 States participated in the dialogue: 26 HRC members and 50 observers  (Statements available on Cambodia page on the UPR Extranet).

Positive achievements

Positive achievements noted by delegations included, among others:

  • The ratification of the Conventions on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, on Enforced Disappearances and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women;
  • The reforms in the legal and judicial systems in compliance with international standards;
  • Progress achieved in the areas of women’s rights and achievements made in maternal mortality;
  • The degree of cooperation that the Government had shown in its engagement with the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Cambodia;
  • Cambodia’s ratification of the Optional Protocol against Torture;
  • The fact that Cambodia had already achieved nearly all Millennium Development Goals.

Issues and Questions

Issues and questions raised by the Working Group included, among others:

  • The recent attacks on activists, union members and journalists and violations of freedom of assembly and association;
  • The recent ban on peaceful assemblies;
  • Infringement on the independence of the judiciary, undermining the rule of law;
  • The remaining challenges in terms of reducing the poverty level in rural areas;
  • Issues with regard to Internet laws, freedom of expression and free access to electronic media;
  • The fact that primary and secondary education was still not compulsory.

Recommendations

States participating in the dialogue posed a series of recommendations to Cambodia.  These pertained to the following issues, among others

  • To adopt legislative measures to promote the enjoyment of freedom of expression in order  to protect opposition party members, journalists and human rights defenders form harassment and arbitrary arrests and to lift all restrictions to peaceful demonstrations;
  • To review all legal cases against individuals who are detained under criminal or judicial investigation on account of the exercise of their right to freedom of expression;
  • To set up a national human rights institution in line with the Paris Principles;
  • To further strengthen Cambodia’s judicial institutions, in order to promote the independence of the judiciary in law and practice;
  • To establish an independent national preventive mechanism under the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture;
  • To take necessary measures for effectively fighting human trafficking and child labour, notably to finalize the draft national plan to eliminate the worst forms of child labour for 2013-2018;
  • To establish an adequate mechanism to protect women and children from sexual abuse;
  • To continue protecting and promoting the rights of persons with disabilities;
  • To strengthen human rights cooperation and dialogue, including through the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights;
  • To extend a standing invitation to all Special Procedures mandate holders;
  • To undertake key electoral reforms, as recommended by the Special Rapporteur;
  • To strengthen land management mechanisms and to prioritize the settlements of land disputes with full respect for the rule of law.
  • Ratification of human rights instruments: the first and second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; the Optional Protocols to the International Covenant on Economic,  Social and Cultural Rights;  the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a communication procedure;  the International Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers;  the UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education.

Adoption of report of Working Group

The adoption of the report of the UPR Working Group on Cambodia is scheduled to take place on
Friday, 31 January 2014.

*The troikas are a group of three States selected through a drawing of lots who serve as rapporteurs and who are charged with preparing the report of the Working Group on the country review with the involvement of the State under review and assistance from the OHCHR.

** For access to the UPR Extranet, please fill out the following form to receive a username and password

Media contacts:
Rolando Gómez, Public Information Officer, OHCHR, + 41(0)22 917 9711,
rgomez@ohchr.org
Cédric Sapey, Public Information Officer, OHCHR, + 41(0)22 917 9695, csapey@ohchr.org

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