CHRC says flooding, Covid more pressing

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

Cambodian Human Rights Committee (CHRC) president Keo Remy said people should focus on the impacts of floods and Covid-19 rather than holding protests and causing chaos to society.

Remy made the remarks during a recent meeting with Pradeep Wagle, a representative of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), to discuss cooperation between CHRC and the UN body about the current human rights situation in Cambodia, according to CHRC spokesman Chin Malin.

“The CHRC told him [Wagle] that we have to work together now and not protest and cause chaos in the society. What we should do is help people in need of assistance amid floods and Covid-19. This will support rights to life and economic rights during and after the floods.

“[Wagle] agreed and said he participated in dealing with floods by visiting flooded prisons and had provided aid,” Malin said.

Wagle told The Post that the OHCHR was working with the UN country team, the government, and other non-UN agencies to collectively seek solutions and coordinate responses by identifying priority needs.

He said the UN country team had visited three flood-impacted prisons in Phnom Penh in October to assess the situation of detainees.

“UN Human Rights is engaged in a constructive discussion concerning recent human rights and legislative developments. UN Human Rights will continue to work with the CHRC and the Cambodian government to ensure the human rights of its people are respected,” Wagle wrote in an email.

Asked about the recent arrests of political and environmental activists, Remy told Wagle that legal action was taken to ensure peace, stability and social order. He said the aim is to stop protests organised by an illegal group.

Remy and Wagle also discussed a draft law on a National Human Rights Institution which is in the consultation process with participation from the OHCHR and the Asia-Pacific Forum.

Wagle wrote: “UN Human Rights will continue engaging with the CHRC, civil society and other stakeholders to ensure the process is consultative, inclusive and represents diverse views of Cambodian society in line with relevant international standards, in particular the Paris Principles.”

Malin said the meeting also touched on establishing a database to record and tracking and reporting on the implementation of human rights recommendations given by international human rights groups. He said the database is being developed.