Dec 04, 2009

KKF participate in the Universal Periodic Review on Cambodia

The Universal Periodic Review for Cambodia yields disappointing results as no attention is dedicated to indigenous or minority rights. 

On 1st December, Cambodia faced examination of their human rights situation under the sixth session of the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR).  A delegation from UNPO Member the Khmer Kampuchea-Krom Federation (KKF) attended Cambodia’s review session in Geneva. M Thhai Makarar from the Khmer Kampuchea-Krom Federation Youth Committee said he was ‘disappointed’ by the outcome of the review. He stated that although H.E. Mr. Sun Suon, the Permanent Representative of Cambodia spoke for an hour, the problems facing indigenous and minority peoples were not raised on this crucial international stage. 

During the interactive dialogue, questions were put to Cambodia by state representatives expressing concern about land grabbing, freedom of expression, lack of an independent juridical system and the immunity of the opposition party.  There was controversy however since the list of speakers on Cambodia was cut due to time constraints, which will impact negatively on the scope of the recommendations which will be taken into account in the Report of the Working Group.

The Khmer Kampuchea Krom were mentioned specifically three times in the Joint Stakeholders Submission - the collective contributions from non-governmental organizations on human rights concerns which should be considered during the review process.  The report mentions the difficulties faced by the Khmer Kampuchea Krom in obtaining citizenship including the resulting insecurity, the denial of right to vote and inability to occupy property or own land. The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization is quoted in the report recommending that Cambodia should acknowledge the indigenous status of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom and end the forceful repatriation of Khmer refugees from Cambodia to neighbouring countries. 

Instead of addressing these pertinent issues and recommendations, the Permanent Representative of Cambodia claimed that the Cambodian Government had ‘achieved a great deal to develop their country.’  UNPO considers it unfortunate that Cambodia neglected to address substantial human rights concerns and failed to respond to constructive recommendations concerning the indigenous status of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom.

Despite being procedurally ineligible to address the Human Rights Council during the review, KKF representatives were able to raise their concerns with the Assistant to the Special Rapporteur on Indigenous People.   KKF delegates met with Ms Lydie Vendre at a side event in the Palais Wilson to discuss the widespread violation of religious and cultural rights, repression of the freedom of expression, concern for refugees in Thailand and the confiscation of the ancestral land as the case of M Vinh Ba.

At another meeting, Sam Rainsy, the President of the opposition Party in Cambodia along with NGOs such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) discussed how to put into place procedures to ensure that the Cambodian Government follow recommendations with the ultimate aim of encouraging Cambodia to represent a strong democratic country. The KKF delegation also lobbied countries including Switzerland, Germany and United States of America to assist them to raise their concerns with Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. 

The adoption of Cambodia’s report was due to take place yesterday (Thursday 3rd December) and UNPO anticipates the publication of the ‘Outcome Report’ which will be adopted at a plenary session of the Human Rights Council.

A podcast of Cambodia’s UPR can be watched here