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Cambodia: UN experts call for free and fair electoral environment ahead of July general elections

25 May 2023

GENEVA (25 May 2023) – UN experts* today urged Cambodian authorities to ensure an inclusive, genuine, and peaceful electoral process, in full respect of human rights, including rights to freedom of assembly, association and expression for all political actors, civil society and voters.

“We are alarmed by the restrictions imposed on the right of political parties to participate in elections,” the experts said, calling for the upcoming general elections in July 2023 to be held in accordance with the minimum standards for free and fair elections. “This is essential to ensure the freely expressed will of the Cambodian people.”

They noted that, just last week, the National Election Committee of Cambodia (NEC) rejected the registration of the Candlelight Party and of the Khmer United Great Nation Party to run in the 23 July national election, citing non-compliance with electoral laws, regulations and NEC notifications.

“The NEC emphasised modalities that appear to have discriminated against one or more of the country's main political parties,” the experts said. “Coupled with intimidation of opposition members, this could be interpreted as a further restriction on political participation,” they said.

“An inclusive democracy, lasting peace and sustainable development require an environment for effective autonomous women's movements to anchor universal human rights standards in political and public life,” they said.

The experts reiterated their call on the Cambodian authorities to immediately release Mr. Kem Sokha – subject of the Opinion of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention – and other opposition party members from detention and to ensure full respect for human rights, including the right to a fair trial and full participation in the conduct of political affairs.

“We are concerned that freedom of expression and freedom of the press continue on a downward path,” they said.

The experts urged the Cambodian authorities to rescind the decision to revoke the licence of the Voice of Democracy, to protect the civil and political rights of all and to ensure an enabling environment for civil society, including independent media.


*The experts: Mr. Vitit MuntarbhornSpecial Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in CambodiaMs. Irene Khan, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; Mr. Nyaletsossi Clément Voule, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; Mr. Morris Tidball-Binz, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Mr. Tomoya Obokata, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences, Ms. Margaret Satterthwaite, Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers; Dorothy Estrada Tanck (Chair), Elizabeth Broderick, Ivana Radačić, Meskerem Geset Techane and Melissa Upreti, Working Group on discrimination against women and girls; Priya Gopalan (Chair-Rapporteur), Matthew Gillett (Vice-Chair on Communications), Ganna Yudkivska (Vice-Chair on Follow-Up), Miriam Estrada-Castillo, and Mumba MalilaWorking Group on arbitrary detention.

Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN human rights country page: Cambodia

For inquiries and media requests, please contact Béatrice Jean-Philippe (+41 22 89 9142 / [email protected])

For media enquiries regarding other UN independent experts, please contact Maya Derouaz ([email protected]) or Dharisha Indraguptha ([email protected])

Follow news related to the UN’s independent human rights experts on Twitter: @UN_SPExperts.

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