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“Participation, transparency and accountability are key in law-making” – UN Special Rapporteur on Cambodia

GENEVA (7 April 2014) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia, Surya P. Subedi, expresses concern that the Cambodian National Assembly held its second session last week without the opposition MPs taking up their seat, and urges the legislature to upkeep the key principles of any law-making process: transparency, accountability and participation.

“I have been following closely the situation in Cambodia where restrictions on human rights and fundamental freedoms continue, as a direct consequence of the unresolved political situation arising from the 2013 general election, the results of which continue to be contested.

While it is also my own hope that the political situation normalises as early as possible, which will include the two parties resuming their dialogue at a decision-making level, I am seriously concerned about the legislative implications of the National Assembly functioning with the representation of only by one party, and thus only a portion of the electorate.

Several important draft laws with significant implications for the protection and promotion of human rights, including on the judiciary, trade unions, civil society, and others, are reportedly being prepared to be taken up by the National Assembly.

Many of these are the very laws, including the three fundamental laws on the judiciary, which I have personally been pressing for enactment without further delay. However I must stress that speedy enactment should not come at the cost of the key principles of any law-making process, namely: transparency, accountability and participation.

 In a true democracy, the people of the country must be provided with an adequate opportunity to comment on the content of draft laws prior to adoption by the legislature. This also includes opportunity for parliamentarians belonging to opposition parties to effectively debate and if necessary amend the bills before they are passed by the legislature.

While welcoming the many commitments recently made about reform by the Royal Government, I stress once more that reform will be meaningful only when there is meaningful participation by the public or their representatives.

I therefore call on the Government to release for public and expert review all draft laws before the Council of Ministers as soon as possible, particularly those with implications for the realisation and enjoyment of human rights. I also call on the National Assembly to do the same with all draft laws that have or will come before it.”

Professor Surya P. Subedi was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council as the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Cambodia in March 2009. As Special Rapporteur, he is independent from any government or organisation and serves in his individual capacity. He is currently Professor of International Law at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom and a practising Barrister of the Middle Temple in London. He is the Vice President of the Asian Society of International Law and editor of its flagship publication – the Asian Journal of International Law published by Cambridge University Press. For more information, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/CountriesMandates/KH/Pages/SRCambodia.aspx

The Special Rapporteur has submitted his recommendations to the Government of Cambodia in five substantive reports to the UN Human Rights Council on the situation of human rights in Cambodia, and will present his next report to the Council in September 2014. Check his previous reports: http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?m=107

UN Human Rights, country page – Cambodia: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/KHIndex.aspx 

For additional information and media enquiries, please contact: Ms. Olga Nakajo (+41 79 444 4332/ +41 22 928 9348 / onakajo@ohchr.org) or write to srcambodia@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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