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UN rights expert urges Cambodia political parties to reconcile

UN Special Rapporteur Surya Subedi called Friday for the government and opposition parties of Cambodia to end their ongoing political impasse [text] and come together on human rights reforms. The impasse arose from still contested elections held in July 2013 and has had "a direct impact on the enjoyment of human rights by all in Cambodia." Subedi released his statement following a three-hour meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen and other senior government officials. "Flexibility on both sides to reach a political compromise is needed," said Subedi. "The Prime Minister has sent an important signal to the international community that he is ready and willing to seriously address the human rights issues in the country by extending full cooperation during this visit and engaging in meaningful dialogue."

The Cambodian government has been criticized for its response to protests in the capitol Phnom Penh. Earlier this month, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights [official website] called on Cambodian authorities to show restraint [JURIST report] in dealing with protesters. On January 6 Cambodian police released five activists [JURIST report] that had been arrested for petitioning the French Embassy to release 23 demonstrators detained for opposing the Government's labor and political policies. The protests began January 3 when police opened fire [BBC report] on striking textile workers in Phnom Penh. Political tension has been high since the Cambodia National Rescue Party [official website], Cambodia's opposition party, disputed the results [JURIST report] of the country's July 2013 elections.

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