Country Profile: Cambodia

Introduction

Cambodia has never served as a member of the Human Rights Council. Advisory services and technical assistance for Cambodia has been the subject of annual resolutions during the September sessions of the Council between 2009 and 2011.

Thematic Issues

Cambodia’s engagement at the Council usually focuses on responding to discussions on the situation of human rights in the country or are in relation to the Universal Periodic Review. Cambodia has been main sponsor of a resolution on regional cooperation for the protection and promotion of human rights in the Asia-Pacific region. It has also co-sponsored 42 resolutions, mainly between 2010 and 2013. These resolutions have primarily been on trafficking, health, and children, although other subjects include climate change, the environment, and technical cooperation in the field of human rights.

Freedom of Assembly and of Association

Cambodia has not actively participated in resolutions on freedom of assembly and of association. The Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association made reference to Cambodia in his June 2016 report, citing excessive policy and practical restrictions over assembly and association rights of the opposition or civil society. He added that Cambodia was among the states that have been governed by the same party or individual for decades. Cambodia’s Law on Associations and NGOs introduced in 2015 further restricts this freedom through mandatory registration for all organisations.

Freedom of Expression

Cambodia has not actively participated in resolutions on freedom of expression, although its shrinking civil society space, including its proposed Internet law, has been a topic often discussed at the Council.

Human Rights Defenders

In March 2014, Cambodia delivered a statement during the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders. This was in exercise of its right to reply to a comment of an NGO on Cambodia, which had drawn attention to a case of the detention of 21 human rights defenders.

Country-Specific Issues

Cambodia has never been a member of the Human Rights Council and thus, never voted on country-specific issues. It has participated in interactive dialogues with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar in 2012 and 2013, as well as delivered an item 4 statement on the situation in the country in 2013. These statements were done in support of the efforts of its fellow ASEAN member, and opposed strong scrutiny while favouring positive incentives and engagements.

Universal Periodic Review

Cambodia underwent its second cycle of the UPR in January 2014. Recommendations that the country received centred on international instruments, the national human rights institution, justice, freedom of association and peaceful assembly, freedom of opinion and expression and human rights defenders.

As a recommending state, Cambodia’s recommendations have focused on women’s rights, trafficking, poverty, development and minorities. It has also made recommendations on freedom of religion and belief.