27th Session (8 - 26 septembre 2014)
ITEM 10:Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia
OralStatement by the Cambodian Center for Human Rights and the World Organisationagainst Torture
Thankyou Mr. President.
TheCambodian Center for Human Rights and the World Organization against Tortureexpress their concerns over the situation of human rights defenders in theKingdom of Cambodia. Threats against Human Rights Defenders are widespread andsystematic and frequently take the form of violence as well as judicialharassment.
Particularlyat risk are Human Rights Defenders and activists who work on issues related toland and housing rights, which are some of the most frequently violated rightsin Cambodia. Despite international and domestic legal obligations, vulnerablecommunities continue to see their land illegally taken away from them, landwhich is then usually transferred to powerful individuals or companies withlinks to the ruling party and to the Royal Government of Cambodia. Human RightsDefenders who engage in peaceful demonstrations are frequently attacked,harassed and arrested. The executive maintains a strong influence on thejudiciary and renders the separation of power illusory. The government respondsto criticism and demonstrations by charging community leaders and activistswith criminal offences. In most cases, little or no genuine evidence isproduced against them.
On9 September 2014, for instance, two researchers employed by a Cambodian humanrights organisation were detained by local police while investigating evictionsdue to sugarcane plantations in the Oddar Meanchey province. They werequestioned for almost 24 hours and only released after signing an agreementpromising to not file complaints over their arrest. This is only one example ofmany where Human Rights Defenders are forced to sign these types of agreementsin order to be released from custody.
Thegovernment’s practice of requiring Human Rights Defenders and activists to signagreements to secure their release from illegal detention is a clear andunlawful restriction of the rights of Human Rights Defenders and dangerouslyrestricts the environment in which they operate. These are tactics ofintimidation which the government uses to silence its critics and form part ofa larger pattern of restrictions for civil society.
Thankyou very much Mr. President.