The 51st Session of the Human Rights Council
12 September 2022 – 7 October 2022
Item 10: Interactive Dialogue with Special Rapporteur on Cambodia
5 October 2022
Statement of the Association Ma´onah for Human Rights and Immigration and Geneva International Centre for Justice
Delivered by Namrata Hazarika
Thank you, President
We start by thanking the Special Rapporteur for his report and asserting that the right to development is tethered to freedom of expression and association. Yet, in the recent assessment of democratic pluralism in Cambodia, we find that both said components are compromised. Hence, we express concern about the human rights situation in the State.
The 2020 State of Emergency Law has restrained the power to declare an emergency and curbed civic liberties, in the hands of a few. Hence, legally silencing critics of government policy. This diminishes the scope for peaceful assembly and freedom of speech, corroborated by the rising threats and harassment towards journalists and human rights defenders and their subsequent arbitrary arrest and detention. All these factors contribute toward preventing the development of multiparty democracy in Cambodia.
The Covid-19 pandemic has further normalised said restrictions under the pretext of the 2021 Law on Preventive Measures against the Spread of COVID-19 and Other Severe and Dangerous Contagious Diseases. This law not only overrides the mobility rights of citizens but also impedes their right to privacy by allowing public disclosure of personal data of patients who contracted Covid.
Therefore, Ma’onah and Geneva International Centre for Justice support the Special Rapporteur’s recommendation to suspend and reform the above-mentioned laws. Additionally, we wish to emphasise that the pandemic is not a means to limit democracy but rather it should bring about a time to advance it.