Cambodia–Universal Periodic Review–Restrictions on civil society and political participation–July 2018

The Advocates for Human Rights submitted a stakeholder report on political-based violence in Cambodia for the 32nd Session of the Human Rights Council’s Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review.

The Constitution of Cambodia recognizes the right to political participation and assembly; however, the government has suppressed political opposition and has engaged in arbitrary arrests of human rights defenders since 2014. In November 2017, the Cambodian Supreme Court dissolved the leading opposition party, the Cambodian National Rescue Party. Opposition supporters and party officials were arrested, killed, or fled the country. Vaguely defined laws increase the risk of arbitrary arrests of NGO staff and opposition members who publicly denounce the ruling party. The report also details accounts of a crackdown on the media and journalists. Some progress has been made to improve conditions of detention.

This stakeholder report suggests the following recommendations for the Government of Cambodia:

  • Protect opposition party members, human rights defenders, and journalists from harassment and arbitrary arrest by adopting legislative measures that prevent the harassment of such persons while exercising their rights to expression and association;
  • Commit to a free and open political environment so that all political parties can legally campaign and participate in elections;
  • Take necessary measures to ensure a free and independent media, including through the revocation of Article 13 of the Press Law and Article 305 of the Penal Code;
  • Thoroughly and impartially investigate and prosecute crimes committed against opposition members and human rights defenders and hold offenders accountable;
  • Take the necessary steps to repeal or amend all laws that limit the legitimate exercise of freedom of expression, assembly, and association, bringing Cambodia’s domestic laws into in full compliance with international human rights standards;
  • Take concrete action to ensure that conditions of arrest and pretrial detention meet international standards, including by reducing the length of time detainees spend in pretrial detention; and
  • Bring conditions of detention into compliance with the Nelson Mandela Rules, particularly with respect to air-quality standards, access to water, and access to electricity.