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UN rights chief urges Cambodia towards more independent judiciary

[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour [official profile; JURIST news archive] Friday wrapped up her first visit to Cambodia by saying [statement text] that the country must develop an independent judiciary and allow NGOs to operate effectively in order to protect the human rights of Cambodian citizens. The visit was arranged to strengthen ties between the UN and Cambodia, which were strained in March when Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen requested the dismissal [JURIST report] of the UN human rights envoy to Cambodia after he publicly criticized the government's record of stifling criticism. Human Rights Watch released a report in January that called attention to Cambodia's ongoing human rights violations [JURIST report].

Cambodia's judiciary has received increased international scrutiny in recent months as the "killing fields" genocide trials of the surviving leaders of Communist Khmer Rouge [Wikipedia backgrounder] regime of the 1970s nears. Earlier this month the Cambodian government named 30 judges [JURIST report] to hear the genocide cases, but rights groups have already said they lack confidence [ABC Australia report] in several of the jurists named, several of whom have no formal legal training. VOA has more.

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