UN Experts Detail Extensive Rights Violations

A U.N. human rights panel on Thursday evening released a report on the government’s adherence to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), taking aim at a series of violations including impunity for extrajudicial killings, excessive use of force by authorities and a lack of judicial independence.

A Cambodian delegation appeared before the Human Rights Committee in Geneva last month, where it presented an update on the country’s human rights situation. Although the Cambodian officials took a combative approach to the committee’s inquiries—with chairman Fabian Omar Salvioli remarking that the delegation was “wasting an opportunity”—the committee began its report by expressing its appreciation for the government’s cooperation and listing a number of laws adopted by Cambodia as “positive aspects.”

Yet the remainder of the document addressed serious human rights violations, including the torture of people being held in police custody in order to extract confessions, overcrowded and inadequate prisons, and the impunity afforded to the powerful.

“The Committee is concerned by reports that no one has been held accountable for the extrajudicial killings, allegedly mainly perpetrated by the army, police and gendarmerie, in Cambodia since the 1991 Paris Agreements,” it said.

It went on to note concerns over “reports of killings of journalists, human rights defenders and other civil society actors” as well as their harassment and intimidation.

The experts also raised the excessive use of force by authorities on three occasions in the past two years: during opposition CNRP protests on September 15, 2013, at a protest at SL Garment factory on November 12, 2013, which saw a bystander killed on both occasions, and the violent suppression of garment worker protests on Veng Sreng Street in January 2014, which left five people dead.

“The Committee is further concerned by the lack of any specific detailed information on the investigations carried out into these cases,” the report continues.

The arbitrary arrest of vagrants, racial discrimination against Vietnamese and gender-based violence were all also cited as ongoing human rights issues in the country.

Cambodia is due to provide an update on its implementation of the committee’s recommendations within a year.

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