Niem Chheng | Publication date 05 July 2019
In a speech to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on Thursday, Prime Minister Hun Sen said those attempting to bring about regime change in Cambodia “at all costs” would never appreciate the Kingdom’s efforts at improving human rights.
“No matter how much effort Cambodia makes and the results it achieves, it will never receive applause or appreciation from groups or institutions that have a single political agenda – regime change at all costs,” he said.
Hun Sen was delivering a speech to the 41st session of the UNHRC at its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.
“They always denigrate human rights practices in Cambodia, while human rights practices in their own countries are full of hatred against foreigners, racism and the ill-treatment of immigrants.”
“They are not afraid of implementing double standards in assessing human rights practices in Cambodia, in order to slow down development and harm Cambodia’s dignity.”
“It is bizarre that Cambodia is urged to promote democracy and the respect of human rights and the rule of law, but when authorities enforce the law, they accuse us of restricting freedom of expression.”
“Worse than this, some countries and institutions use human rights in relation to aid and preferential trade status to take Cambodia’s economy hostage,” Hun Sen said.
Hun Sen said he regretted that human rights were currently being used by certain influential countries as an instrument to interfere with the sovereignty and independence of weaker nations.
However, he said improving human rights should be considered in the political, historical and societal contexts of each country. He said sovereignty, territorial integrity, non-interference and neutrality should be respected.
“Human problems should be dealt with in the context of the world based on a constructive approach with uniform standards, without confrontation and political agenda, and based on dialogue,” he said, after describing how the Kingdom had managed to improve significantly after overcoming its bitter history.
Political analyst Lao Mong Hay was of the view that the rule of law in a free society matched what was laid out in the Cambodian Constitution.
He said rule of law in Cambodia came from legality normally practised in communist countries, with it being a legacy of the Kingdom’s communist government of the 1980s.
“The constitution provides for an independent judiciary whose one task is to defend the rights and freedoms of the Cambodian people.”
“The King is the guarantor of the respect for judicial independence and the Cambodian people’s rights and freedoms as recognised by the constitution,” he said.
Kin Phea, the director of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said Hun Sen may have been referring to the US and the EU when he said Cambodia’s human right practices were being denigrated.
“The US and the EU seem to be prejudiced against Cambodia. They judge Cambodia due to geopolitics and their vying for power.”
“They always talk about human rights, democracy and the rule of law, but they forget the rule of law when Cambodia applies it against those who violated the Kingdom’s laws,” he said.
He said Cambodia was committed to cooperating and working in a constructive partnership with the UN’s human rights bodies and others to promote human rights.
Meanwhile, people in Europe were preparing to protest against Hun Sen on Friday in front of the UNHRC headquarters to demand democracy in Cambodia.
Tha Yoeung, a Cambodian living in the French city of Lyon, told The Post on Thursday that he had asked for permission to protest and was waiting for the green light from the Geneva authorities.
He said less than 200 people would join the demonstration as it was being held on a workday. He said he had little hope that permission would be granted as the request had been submitted late.
“We will demand that democracy returns to Cambodia because it is currently a country where an opposition party supported by almost 50 per cent of the people was dissolved. All elections held after this dissolution cannot be genuine,” Tha said.
Mong Hay said that while the protest, if it were to happen, may annoy Hun Sen, any confrontation between demonstrators and supporters of the prime minister should be avoided as it would achieve nothing.
Kin Phea said people had the right to protest, but any demonstration would have no influence on Hun Sen and Cambodia.