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Cambodia: U.N. Expert Decries Human Rights Situation

(Oct. 6, 2009) On October 1, 2009, Surya Subedi, an independent United Nations expert, spoke of concerns about human rights in Cambodia. The issues raised include the lack of independence of the judiciary, restrictions on the freedoms of expression and assembly, the impunity of officials, and land evictions. Subedi's report was submitted to the U.N. Human Rights Council, located in Geneva, Switzerland, and it included the suggestion that the Council should encourage the Cambodian government to uphold its commitments under various human rights accords. (Basic Freedoms Restricted in Cambodia, UN Rights Expert Reports, UN NEWS CENTRE, Oct. 1, 2009, available at

Subedi stated that the “rule of law is weak in the country. The judiciary is not as independent as it should be. Some of the core political rights such as the freedom of expression and peaceful assembly have been undermined.” (Id.) He pointed out that the country is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, but has enacted laws on defamation that go beyond what that accord would permit. Subedi argued that freedom of speech provisions in international agreements suggest that restrictions like defamation issues should be handled as civil law, not criminal law, problems. (Id.; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (entered into force Mar. 23, 1976), G.A. Res. 2200A (XXI), 21 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 16) at 52, U.N. Doc. A/6316 (1966), 999 U.N.T.S. 171, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights website, (last visited Oct. 1, 2009).)