CHRC to hold 60 meetings on national rights commission

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CHRC president Keo Remy (left) and OHCHR Representative Pradeep Wagle during a discussion on the current human rights situation in Cambodia. CHRC

The Cambodian Human Rights Committee (CHRC) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) plan to hold 60 consultation meetings on the draft law on the organisation and functioning of the National Human Rights Commission of Cambodia (NHRC) before moving it forward into the next phase of the legislative process.

CHRC spokesman Katta Orn told The Post on July 12 that the draft law would be written in consultation with all stakeholders, including civil society organisations (CSOs), from July until the end of the year in order to make the final law acceptable to all parties.

“We plan to hold about 60 consultations with ministries, institutions, political parties as well as CSOs and unions of all kinds to make sure that we get input on all aspects of the law,” Orn said.

He said the public could also comment on the draft law via the CHRC’s Facebook page and Telegram channel.

In a press statement on July 8, The CHRC said each consultation meeting will focus on a different human rights theme and will either be held in-person or via video conferencing.

The draft law released by the CHRC for consultation consists of eight chapters and 32 articles. Article 1 says the law aims to establish the NHRC and determine how it will be organised and how it will function in accordance with the Paris principles.

It says the commission will be formed to promote and protect human rights in accordance with the provisions of the Cambodian Constitution, UN Charter, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant and the Convention on Human Rights.

“The NHRC is an independent and neutral national body in the field of human rights,” the draft stated.

Am Sam Ath, deputy director of rights group Licadho, said the NHRC and the law to establish it have been discussed since 2005 but never moved forward because of concerns raised by CSOs at the time that it would not be an independent body.

Sam Ath said that in ASEAN member states such as Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand, there are National Human Rights Commissions that are trusted to be independent.

“We, as CSOs working in the field of human rights, want to see this institution established to be independent. There should be enough time for discussions and consultations so that our suggestions can be accepted to make it independent like in other countries,” he said.

According to Sam Ath, the NHRC in other countries work to promote human rights and protect victims of human rights abuses there and they have the authority to investigate rights abuses and seek justice for the victims.

“I think that if discussions and consultations cannot lead to the establishment of this institution as an independent body, it may return to the situation in 2005-2006 when its creation was put on hold,” he said.