[JURIST] The Cambodian government uses systematic human rights and civil liberty violations to maintain its hold on power, according to a report by UN special rights representative Yash Ghai [appointment notice] and obtained by AFP. The report listed illegal land grabs, torture while in police custody, corruption among senior government officials, and a steadfast government opposition to democracy among other violations. Cambodian officials angrily denied Ghai's allegations, accusing him of being an outsider speaking about things he did not understand. Cambodian government human rights advisor Om Yentieng said it would not be appropriate to respond to the accusations [DPA report], which he insisted were not based on fact. Cambodian prime minister Hun Sen [BBC profile] said that Ghai is no longer welcome in Cambodia because of his criticism. In contrast, the Asian Human Rights Commission [advocacy website] condemned [press release] Sen's remarks and human rights advocate and founder of Cambodian rights group Licadho [advocacy website], Kek Galabru, said Ghai's conclusions were "generally correct." AFP has more.
The UN findings are broadly consistent with the latest US State Department human rights report on Cambodia released earlier this week as part of its 2006 worldwide human rights review [JURIST report], which concluded:
The government's human rights record remained poor. Government agents committed extrajudicial killings, and security forces acted with impunity. There was little political will to address the failure by government authorities to adhere to the rule of law. Detainees were abused, often to extract confessions, and prison conditions were harsh. Human rights monitors reported arbitrary arrests and prolonged pretrial detention, underscoring a weak judiciary and denial of the right to a fair trial. Land disputes and forced evictions, often accompanied by violence, were a growing problem. The government restricted freedom of speech and press through the use of defamation and disinformation suits, controlled or influenced the content of television and radio broadcasts, and sometimes interfered with freedom of assembly. Corruption was endemic and extended throughout all segments of society, including the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government.Read the full text of the US report.