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Cambodia: UN human rights expert hails political breakthrough, calls for promised reforms

GENEVA (22 July 2014) – Following the announcement today of the agreement reached between the two main political parties in Cambodia and the subsequent release of the opposition party members arrested during the past week, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia, Surya P. Subedi, issued the following statement:

"I warmly welcome the political agreement reached today by the leaders of the two main political parties, finally breaking the deadlock that has gripped the country for almost a year. I equally welcome the release of the 7 members of Parliament-elect and another activist from the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) following the deal reached this morning. 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."

“However, the agreement reached on the National Election Committee only marks the beginning of the true work of reforming the State institutions,” Mr. Subedi said. Expressing hope that the two parties will undertake meaningful reforms for the country on principled grounds rather than guided by temporary political expediency, the Special Rapporteur added: “This is an opportunity to carry out a comprehensive reform of lasting character in line with international standards, as outlined in my reports on electoral, judicial and parliamentary reforms, so that the situation which has been prevailing since the National Assembly elections in July 2013 does not repeat itself.”

He urged the two parties to work together to establish or strengthen those State institutions with responsibilities for human rights implementation and independent monitoring.

Lastly, Mr. Subedi noted with concern that the seven CNRP MPs-elect and a CNRP supporter released on bail today still face serious charges that can be used as a tool for political harassment 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," he said.

The UN expert urged the two parties to launch, without delay, the important and overdue judicial reform that they both promised to their constituencies during the elections last year, noting that it is “now not only possible and inevitable,” with the CNRP MPs taking up their seats in the National Assembly, “but also absolutely crucial.”

ENDS

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 in five substantive reports on the situation of human rights in Cambodia. Mr. Subedi will present his latest findings, conclusions and recommendations to the UN Human Rights 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 22 928 9348 / onakajo@ohchr.org) or write to srcambodia@ohchr.org

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