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7 Oct 2021

Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Cambodia: UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expresses ongoing concerns over judicial attacks on human rights defenders in shrinking civic & democratic space

"Item 10: Presentation of the Secretary-General's and High Commissioner's country reports and oral updates: Statement by Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights", 7 October 2021

This Council has been presented with reports of the Secretary General and of myself on Cambodia, …, and …

I begin with the report (A/HRC/48/49), which provides an overview of the work of our country office in Cambodia …, in accordance with Human Rights Council resolution 42/37.

The report welcomes the Government’s important economic recovery policies and social protection programs for vulnerable groups during the COVID-19 crisis. On the other hand, it also highlights heavy reliance on law enforcement to curb the pandemic, including through the newly enacted COVID-19 law, which grants law enforcement with sweeping powers, leading to the curtailment of human rights and fundamental freedoms…

Civic and democratic space in Cambodia saw further deterioration since my global update to this Council …

Human rights defenders were routinely harassed and intimidated, while trade union activists reported broad restrictions on peaceful assembly, at a time when workers and others were experiencing increased costs of food, rent, utilities and loan payments, and factory operations were suspended. Since the submission of this report, in a troubling development, prominent human rights defender, Rong Chhun, and two others were convicted on vaguely worded charges. As we speak, at least 25 human rights defenders, including 12 women are behind bars. This includes six youth environmental defenders…

OHCHR will continue to work with the Government of Cambodia and other stakeholders, with a view to ensuring that the human rights of all people in Cambodian are fully respected and protected.