“The Steps Taken by the Cambodian Authorities Are Legitimate and Proportionate,” States Cambodia Mission

“The steps taken by the Cambodian authorities are legitimate and proportionate,” the Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Cambodia in Geneva underlined in a statement on Jan. 6.

The full statement read as follows:

“The Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Cambodia in Geneva utterly deplores the irresponsible and misleading statement based on one-sided and unverified accounts of the four Special Rapporteurs concerning law application on the week-long unlawful protests in the Kingdom.

The steps taken by the Cambodian authorities are legitimate and proportionate. Below are some highlights of the facts.

1. The Special Rapporteurs referred to the right to strike, but failed to mention the core requirements to be fulfilled before the strike can be legally staged. The truth is that the demonstrations were declared illegal by the Phnom Penh Court of First Instance on 16 December 2021. By doing so, they undermine the authority of the Committee on Freedom of Association of the International Labour Organisation, which recognises the role of an independent body (other than Government) in declaring legality of a strike. In addition, their remarks erroneously portrayed the Ministry of Labour as a party to dispute with the protesters. The fact is that the Ministry plays a conciliatory role.

2. Prior to the law enforcement, the authorities concerned have repeatedly called on the striking employees to return to peaceful negotiations in good faith and to cease their week-long unlawful protests, which threaten security, public order and safety. The charges, made on the basis of concrete and sufficient evidences, including confession of some protesters and financial sources from certain foreign actors, are in line with articles 494 and 495 of Cambodia’s penal code, crafted with the help of Western experts. To tag the law application as repression of rights and freedoms is to denigrate the rule of law and equal application to all citizens as warranted by the Constitution. The defendants have full opportunity to be heard, including the right to counsel, and to disprove the indictment as part of the rights to due process.

3. The Special Rapporteurs have never stressed that the exercise of the freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly carries with it special duties, responsibilities and limitations provided by laws, as stipulated in International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Their intentional de-emphasis emboldens certain forces, who readily exploit the situation for their hidden agenda disguised under the right to peaceful protests. Unlawful or mercenary protests disrupting public order or bringing social chaos are not a constitutional exercise of the peaceful assembly.

4. The purported human rights experts, being not the UN staff but serving in their individual capacity, always feel that things should have been acted differently based on their rights theory. But, will they take liability if their experiment fails? The law enforcement is imperative to shield law-abiding citizens and to prevent repetition of Cambodia’s tragic past and recent tragedies in some countries as a result of foreign interference in the internal affairs under the pretext of human rights and democracy.

To conclude, the Special Rapporteurs are reminded of abiding by the ‘Code of Conduct for Special Procedures Mandate Holders’ and working on the basis of facts rather than disinformation. They should also refrain from making irresponsible remarks and unfounded allegations against a sovereign state without getting the facts straight.”

Source: Agency Kampuchea Press