CHRC slams HRW annual report as ‘politically motivated’

CHRC slams HRW annual report as ‘politically motivated’ CHRC slams HRW annual report as ‘politically motivated’

The government has hit back at the Human Rights Watch annual report which claimed the human rights situation in Cambodia continues to deteriorate, accusing HRW of having a political agenda to only criticise and not focusing on the people’s interest.

A senior official of the Cambodia Human Rights Committee (CHRC) considers the report of Human Rights Watch to be politically motivated aimed at denigrating the government.

CHRC vice-president Chin Malin said yesterday that the recent report by Human Rights Watch
was not unusual going by the
international organisation’s criticism. He said this was a political trend to hit out at the government without considering Cambodia’s interests.

Malin said the claims that the human rights situation in Cambodia continues to deteriorate due to the arrests of opposition politicians and environmental activists continue to ignore the legal procedures in the country.

He added that the report did not examine whether the activists were acting in violation of the law or that the authorities have a basis for accusations and court proceedings.

The government’s reaction comes two days after Human Rights Watch released its 2021 annual report on Friday.

The report said human rights in Cambodia continues to deteriorate as the government cracks down on politicians, social and environmental activists as well as acts with impunity through the creation of restrictive laws which affect basic human rights, both in the past and present.

HRW said that in anticipation of upcoming commune and national elections this year and next year, Prime Minister Hun Sen made use of a worsening Covid-19 pandemic to expand authoritarian control by further restricting civil and political rights and failing to protect the social and economic rights of marginalised groups.

It alleged that the government adopted a new, overbroad Covid-19 law, allowing for up to 20-year prison sentences for violations of Covid-19 measures.

HRW claimed that to silence dissent, Cambodia’s politicised courts held a series of mass trials against over 100 political opposition members and dozens of human rights defenders for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

It also alleged the government’s harsh Covid-19 lockdowns were imposed without ensuring access to adequate food, medical and other basic needs.

HRW said the authorities also resorted to beating people on the streets in Phnom Penh with bamboo canes for leaving their homes in defiance of the Covid-19 edicts
and the government also failed to take sufficient steps to prevent major Covid-19 outbreaks among the prison population in a penal
system plagued by massive overcrowding.

The NGO also alleged the government adopted a sub-decree that tightens control of the internet and expands online surveillance of internet users critical of it, while infringing privacy rights.