Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Switzerland, Liechtenstein


Human Rights Council – 18th Session

Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Cambodia

Statement by Australia

We thank the Special Rapporteur for his report on his recent missions to Cambodia and welcome the access he was granted to senior levels of government.

This year we commemorate the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Paris Peace Agreements. Cambodia has undergone a huge transformation since the dark days of civil war. While we encourage Cambodia to continue to improve its human rights situation, we recognise and congratulate Cambodia on what it has achieved.

We support the Special Rapporteur’s recommendations on accelerating the democratisation process in Cambodia, and strengthening Parliament as an institution. While welcoming Cambodia’s acceleration of its legislative program to implement the Special Rapporteur’s recommendations on the judiciary, we share his concern that provisions in some Cambodian laws, including the Penal Code, may be interpreted to curtail basic freedoms, including freedom of expression. We will continue to support the strengthening of Cambodia’s law and justice sector through Australia’s development assistance.

As the second largest donor to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), we are pleased that the trial in Case 002 involving the four most senior surviving Khmer Rouge leaders began on 27 June 2011. The ECCC has a vital role to play not only in ensuring accountability for victims of the Khmer Rouge, but also in developing Cambodia’s long-term legal capacity and promoting reconciliation.

Non-government organisations have made a vital contribution to Cambodia’s impressive development over the past 20 years. While noting consultations Cambodia has undertaken to prepare early drafts of the Law on Associations and NGOs, we share the Special Rapporteur’s concerns that aspects of the draft still require careful attention to ensure they do not hamper freedoms of association and expression.

We welcome the programs being developed by Cambodia to resolve land issues in rural areas, but note the Special Rapporteur’s concerns about incidents of violence associated with forced evictions, and the speed of progress on land ownership.

We encourage Cambodia, the Special Rapporteur and other interested parties, including the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia, to consult closely on these and other issues raised in the report.