The land of heroes
Our heroes
Our land
Cambodia Kingdom

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cambodia faces worrying human rights trends: UN

PHNOM PENH (AFP) – Rising land disputes and crackdowns on government critics are "worrying trends" in Cambodia, a UN representative said Thursday in a speech marking international human rights day.

Christophe Peschoux, head of the UN's office of the high commissioner for human rights in Cambodia, said there had been some improvement in human rights but urged the government to behave in a "tolerant manner" towards the issue.

"We have also observed some worrying trends in recent years," he said in his speech at a rally where thousands of people gathered to mark international human rights day.

He mentioned people being forcibly evicted from their property in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh as well as ethnic minorities who have been robbed of their land in northeastern areas of the country.

"As land has become a new source of wealth, they (minority people) are being dispossessed of their lands," Peschoux said.

"And day after day villagers are robbed of their land by powerful economic interests, often with the support of the authorities," he added.

The Cambodian government has faced mounting criticism for a spate of forced evictions throughout the country over the past few years at the hands of army and police.

The Cambodian administration has also been heavily criticised by rights groups over the past year for launching a number of defamation and disinformation lawsuits against critics and opposition members.

Peschoux's speech also criticised recent crackdowns on government critics who have been sentenced to jail or fined for their comments.

"In a tolerant political environment, differences of opinion should not be dealt with through threats, intimidation or criminal action, but through public debate," he said.

In a joint statement marking international human rights day, 18 local rights groups also called on the government to open more space for the freedom of expression and to stop forced evictions around the country.

No comments: