Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Geneva, Switzerland
Address: Chemin des Fins 2, Case Postale 102, 1211 Geneva 19 - Telephone: 022 799 9100 - Fax: 022 799 9178

UN Human Rights Council – 21st Session

Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur

on the Situation of Human Rights in Cambodia

Statement by Australia, 25 September 2012

Australia welcomes Cambodia’s continuing engagement with the Special Rapporteur and the work Cambodia has begun to implement the recommendations of its universal periodic review.

We also welcome the progress that Cambodia has made on land issues, including the impact of land disputes and forced evictions on disadvantaged groups. We recognise Cambodia’s moratorium on economic land concessions and the new titling project scheduled to be completed within the coming months.

At the same time, Australia believes it is important that resettlements be carried out in accordance with Cambodia’s Land Law and its human rights obligations. We are concerned by reports of increasing violence to persons and damage to property as part of forced evictions.

The use of force against protestors is also of concern. Incidents of excessive use of force, including shooting by authorities, should be investigated swiftly, fully and transparently. We encourage Cambodia to strengthen its regulatory framework governing land issues, and to provide greater access for complainants to appropriate adjudicative mechanisms before resettlement.

Australia congratulates Cambodia on making a number of technical improvements to the way it conducts elections, which are being held in an increasingly stable and open environment. Like the Special Rapporteur, we encourage Cambodia to increase its efforts to ensure that election processes are inclusive, and that there are no barriers which might deter Cambodian citizens, especially new voters, from registering and participating in elections.

Allowing all voices to be heard is an essential ingredient to ensuring a strong and vibrant democracy and society. Australia is concerned that the incitement, defamation and other provisions of the Criminal Code are being applied in a way that could stifle a plurality of views being heard.

As a longstanding supporter of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, we are pleased that important judicial positions have been filled, and that the trial of former Khmer Rouge leaders in Case 002 is progressing well. Independence of the judiciary is paramount, and the Extraordinary Chambers must be allowed to operate free from any external interference.

We are concerned that the Extraordinary Chambers face severe funding shortages and encourage all donors, including new donors, to pledge further funds to the trials. Australia has been pleased to provide $19.7 million to the ECCC as an international donor and in support for the Cambodian Government’s contributions to the Extraordinary Chambers.