[JURIST] UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia [official website] Surya Subedi on Wednesday commented [press release] on Cambodia’s recent efforts in human rights protection, noting that while there have been improvements, there are still substantial problems in the judicial system. Subedi stated, “The situation in Cambodia today is very different from the one that existed when I assumed the Special Rapporteur mandate five years ago. Having said that, what Cambodia needs now is to adopt a strong human rights infrastructure that can support far-reaching and meaningful reform.” His biggest recommendation for positive reform is for the government to reconsider its opposition to independent institutions. He also commented that the list of impunity cases is growing, and that the government should bring to justice those responsible for the repeated incidents involving excessive use of force against protestors since last September when the Special Rapporteur’s two-year mandate was renewed. Subedi also called for the international community to help Cambodia in its efforts.
Cambodia has a precarious relationship both with its human rights situation and its political process, especially in the aftermath of of the disputed 2013 parliamentary elections. Some progress was recently made in reconciling political divisions. In March the two main political parties, the Cambodian People’s Party and the Cambodian National Rescue Party, reached [JURIST report] a five-point electoral reform agreement that garnered the support of Subedi. On February 27 the government lifted [JURIST report] its temporary ban on public protests which had barred demonstrations by opposition groups protesting the previous year’s allegedly fraudulent elections. The ban had been put in place the previous month after several textile workers engaged in a protest had been shot by police. Also in February the government announced [JURIST report] its refusal to release 21 persons arrested in connection with political demonstrations. January was a particularly volatile month, prompting multiple statements from UN bodies calling [JURIST reports] for reconciliation and an end to political violence.