Japan, CHRC hold meeting to prepare for rights talks

PHNOM PENH (The Phnom Penh Post/ANN) - Head of  CHRC and the Japanese ambassador held an ad hoc meeting on Tuesday to prepare for their annual Human Rights Dialogue.

The head of the Cambodian Human Rights Committee (CHRC ) and the
Japanese ambassador held an ad hoc meeting on Tuesday to prepare for
their annual Human Rights Dialogue in August on the situation in the
Kingdom.

CHRC spokesperson Chin Malin said on Tuesday that committee president
Keo Remy had proposed seven topics to be discussed with Ambassador
Hidehisa Horinouchi and officials from Japan’s foreign affairs ministry
in August.

He said the talks were intended to share views and experiences, as
well as to take away positives from each other on the respect for human
rights in both countries.

“We will present positive developments and share efforts that have
been made and the challenges we have encountered to make improvements in
the future. Our Japanese counterparts will share their experiences on
these topics and we will exchange views on how to improve the human
rights situation,” Malin said.

The seven topics proposed include the legacy of the Extraordinary
Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia for international courts, judicial
system reform and legal assistance.

Freedoms of assembly, speech and association, NGO and press
freedoms, the right to access information and women’s and LGBT rights
were also proposed.

The UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Reviews and
international cooperation on the protection of human rights through the
Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and its
Special Rapporteur on Human Rights were also tabled for discussion.

He said all the topics would be checked and approved by the Japanese
Ministry of Foreign Affairs before the dialogue takes place.

Hironori Suzuki, Counsellor of the Embassy of Japan, said via email
on Tuesday that Japan has continuously supported the efforts of the
Cambodian government to improve the human rights situation on the
ground.

“In this regard, Japan has been holding Japan-Cambodia Human Rights
Dialogues with the Cambodian Human Rights Committee regularly."

“Both sides exchanged views on the human rights situation in
Cambodia, Japan’s capacity-building assistance to Cambodia, the
cooperation in the field of human rights in the international area etc,”
Suzuki said.

Chak Sopheap, the executive director of the Cambodian Centre for
Human Rights (CCHR), said that while Japan’s interest and enthusiasm in
raising human rights issues with the Cambodian government should be
welcomed, a more transparent and participatory process was necessary.

She said Japan had chosen to remain silent on certain human rights
issues and has not conducted regular dialogues with human rights
communities in Cambodia, including civil society organisations.

She said Japan was one of the signatories to the Paris Peace
Agreements and a facilitator in a UN Human Rights Council resolution on
Cambodia in 2018.

Hence, it is hoped that it would do more to contribute to the
peace-building process in the Kingdom, of which the respect for human
rights, in law and in practice, is a necessary and core part.

“Japan must go beyond providing infrastructure and human resources
support and actively advocate for an end to human rights violations in
the Kingdom,” she said.

Political analyst Lao Mong Hay said Japan was an important party to
the 1991 Paris Peace Agreements that marked the official end of the
Cambodian-Vietnamese war.

Under the agreements and alongside the other parties, Japan had
undertaken to promote and encourage the observance of human rights and
fundamental freedoms in Cambodia.

“Yet, compared with many Western countries, Japan has not shown
itself and has not been known to be a strong advocate of the respect for
and observance of human rights and/or any strong supporter of human
rights defenders in Cambodia."

“It may have preferred quiet diplomacy and direct intervention with
the Cambodian authorities, which, unfortunately, has yielded, if at all,
very little results."

“One would hope its cooperation with the government’s human rights
commission, at this particular juncture, will help alleviate Cambodia’s
present human rights predicament,” Mong Hay said.

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