The EU would like to thank Ms. Rhona Smith for her continued work and engagement on the human rights situation in Cambodia. Let me also in this occasion underline the importance we attach to her mandate. It is of utmost importance to have accurate and timely information on human rights situation in Cambodia. The latest news are concerning.
The EU calls the Government of Cambodia to fully cooperate with Special Rapporteur, as well as with the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights, in order to strengthen the implementation of Cambodia’s legal obligations stemming from all International instruments ratified by Cambodia. The Special makes several recommendations on the measures to be taken to improve the overall situation and we urge the Cambodian authorities to implement them.
The Special rapporteur states the progress Cambodia has made in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals by underlining certain policies and strategies the Government has adopted in leaving no one behind. However, further efforts are needed to strengthen non-discrimination and equality in practice, including with regard to the full enjoyment of human rights by women, LGBTI persons and other persons in vulnerable situations. Equality and non-discrimination contributes to the fight against poverty and increases stability.
The SDGs cannot be reached without protection and respect for civil and political rights. The EU continues to be deeply concerned about restrictions on civil society and political space, on freedom of expression, association and assembly in Cambodia. We urge the Cambodian government to take all necessary measures to restore democratic space, respect labour rights, and re-establish a political environment in which all opposition parties, civil society and media can operate freely. In July 2019, five Special Rapporteurs issued a joint statement expressing serious concern on civil society actors further arrests, while engaging in the legitimate exercise of freedom of expression. The EU also shares the Special Rapporteurs’ concern on the lack of independent and impartial investigations.
The EU calls on the Government of Cambodia to take immediate and meaningful actions to protect the safety of journalists as well as all human rights defenders. We call on the Government of Cambodia to cease using the judiciary as a political tool to harass and intimidate political opponents, civil society and labour rights activists and human rights defenders.
While there have been some improvements in some areas, such as combatting trafficking in human beings, strengthening education and children’s protection, the EU would like to see substantial steps for the building democracy and promotion of human rights and the rule of law. We reiterate our strong calls to the Government of Cambodia to drop all charges against and release opposition leader Kem Sokha, to reopen the political space, including 118 senior opposition members, and to restore democracy at local/commune level.
The full enjoyment of human rights of all Cambodians can only be based on inclusive participation of public life and stable political environment. Without respectful, voluntary meaningful participation to public life, including political life, there are no real possibilities for any country to end poverty and fulfil the Sustainable Development Goals.
I thank you.