UN Rights Envoy Subedi Vows to Continue Work in Cambodia

U.N. human rights envoy Surya Subedi on Wednesday wrapped up his appearance before the Human Rights Council in Geneva with a vow to continue assisting Cambodia in improving its judicial system as NGOs provided withering testimony of the situation of rights in the country. A dialogue between NGOs and interested countries followed a presentation given by Mr. Subedi on Tuesday, during which he said that Cambodia is at a crossroads in terms of its human rights situation and that “those who are on the wrong side of history will be punished by history.” “Many of you have expressed concern about the situation of the judicial system in Cambodia,” he said in response to comments made by U.N. rights council member states and rights groups. … China, one of Cambodia’s most generous benefactors, spoke in glowing terms about Cambodia’s human rights, economic and social development but said it believes that Cambodia should “choose its own models of human rights development while the international community provides technical assistance.” The Chinese representative said other member states needed to respect Cambodia’s sovereign decisions. This approach was also taken by the delegate from Vietnam, who congratulated Cambodia on making “concrete steps in reaching millennium development goals resolving land issues,” as well as the adoption of a widely criticized genocide denial law, which was passed only after members of the opposition were booted from parliament by Prime Minister Hun Sen’s party earlier this year. Laos, another Asean neighbor and one-party state like China and Vietnam, said there was no need for Mr. Subedi’s work. “In our view, the Universal Periodic Review mechanism is the only appropriate forum to discuss human rights development in a country.” …

Lauren Crothers