"Human rights are our common heritage and their realization depends on the contributions
that each and every one of us is willing to make, individually and collectively, now and in the future."

Louise Arbour
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights


HUMAN RIGHTS DAY 2004 - Media Statement

International Human Rights Day on December 10th marks the 56th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was adopted on December 10 th , 1948 . This year at the global level, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and UNESCO are dedicating International Human Rights Day to human rights education.

On this day in Phnom Penh , representatives from Cambodian non governmental organizations are organizing a walk for human rights to commemorate International Human Rights Day with support from a number of UN agencies and international organizations under the overall theme of human rights education.

The event will officially start at 2.00 pm at Wat Botum Vatei with presentations, including statements by the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC) and NGO Forum, and Dr. Chea Samnang, Goodwill Ambassador of UNFPA, Ms. Chan Chann Leakhena, a well known Cambodian actress, and a reading in Khmer of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by children. The walk will start at around 3.00 p.m. from Wat Botum Vatei and will end at the Royal Palace .

His Majesty King Sihamoni has invited a group of non-governmental organisations, civil society representatives and UN representatives to enter the Palace at 4.00 pm for a one hour meeting on the occasion of International Human Rights Day. Four persons who have been victims of specific human rights violations will have a chance to present their stories to His Majesty King Sihamoni.

The commemoration of International Human Rights Day also aims to draw attention to continuing human rights violations occurring in Cambodia , with particular focus on land alienation, restrictions on freedom of assembly, expression and association; and violence against women and children; all of which significantly affect the entire country.

Increasing incidences of land-grabbing have been documented over the last years, with devastating effects on indigenous communities, farmers and the urban and rural poor. From February 2003, 35 demonstrations were either denied permits or were forcibly dispersed by the Phnom Penh authorities; in the provinces, a few gatherings were similarly prevented and/or dispersed. Domestic violence, rape, sexual abuse and human trafficking continue to occur throughout the country.

The underlying issue of rule of law and its direct connection with the prevention of human rights violations is also highlighted. "Only by ensuring that those who violate human rights are punished in accordance with the law, without exception, will we be able to redress such violations, and deter others from committing similar violations." says Dr. Kek Galabru, Chairperson of CHRAC and President of Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO).

For the people and Government of Cambodia, human rights education represents a powerful means for preventing human rights violations and for fighting against corruption and impunity. "It is our duty as citizens to strive through education and teaching to promote respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms as well as to secure their universal recognition and observance" says Mr. Yong Kim Eng, President of Khmer Youth Association (KYA).

"We must ensure that Cambodia 's land and natural resources are managed in such a way as to sustain the livelihoods and well being of the majority of our people who live in rural Cambodia . As well, we must ensure that the rights of women and children are respected and that all our citizens are able to participate effectively in the conduct of public affairs" adds Mr. Thun Saray, President of Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC).

By drawing attention to these issues, the activities on International Human Rights Day contribute to human rights education, which is a necessary tool in ensuring the human rights become a reality for all Cambodians.

The media is cordially invited to the Program at Wat Botum Vatei, and the march to the Royal Palace .

For more information, please contact:

Dr. Kek Galabru , Chairperson of CHRAC and President of LICADHO at 012 940 645

Mr. Thun Saray , President of ADHOC at 016 880 509

Mr. Yong Kim Eng , President of KYA at 016 828 211