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24 Aug 2021

LICADHO & 59 others

Cambodia: 60 CSOs express concerns over worsening human rights situation and urge govt. to restore human rights & open civic space before consulting draft law on NHRI

"Redress Cambodia’s Human Rights Situation Before Establishing an NHRI", 24 August 2021

In light of the ever-worsening human rights situation in Cambodia, we, …, are deeply concerned about the Royal Government of Cambodia (“RGC”)’s recent move towards the establishment of a National Human Rights Institution (“NHRI”). While such an institution is direly needed in the Kingdom, the environment in which it would come to operate raises concern as to its expected effectivity and credibility. We urge the RGC to prioritize redressing Cambodia’s human rights situation prior to its establishment to ensure that its creation is motivated by a genuine interest in promoting and protecting human rights rather than by attempts to provide a veneer of credibility to the RGC’s proclaimed commitment to human rights…

The current human rights environment that prevails in Cambodia adds to concerns that an NHRI established now would ultimately fail to meet its goal of protecting and promoting human rights…

Before moving forward with the establishment of an NHRI, we urge the RGC to restore human rights in Cambodia and create an environment conducive to its proper functioning and independence. In particular, we call on the RGC to reopen the civic space and ensure that fundamental freedoms are exercised freely by all, including dissenting voices; to immediately and unconditionally release all jailed prisoners of conscience and establish a truly independent judiciary; to repeal or amend all repressive laws to align them with international human rights standards; to cease the ongoing crackdown on human rights defenders, trade unions leaders, opposition members, independent journalists, and other critical voices; and to ensure an open, free and competitive political space ahead of upcoming elections.