ARTICLE 19 and PEN America express regret that three years since Cambodia received 198 UPR recommendations to improve its human rights record, the government has failed to meaningfully implement the vast majority of these recommendations, and shows little will or intent to follow through on its human rights commitments made to this Council.
As shown in our mid-term report, the government has largely failed to implement recommendations on freedom of expression, information, assembly and association, digital rights, media freedom, and the protection of human rights defenders. While 31 states made 56 recommendations covering these topics, there has been minimal progress on implementation with no recommendations fully implemented and only nine partially implemented or showing progress towards partial implementation. The remaining 84% show no signs of progress towards successful implementation. Rather, as evidenced in our mid-term report, the situation has further regressed.
Since Cambodia’s third UPR in January 2019, Cambodian authorities have revoked the licenses of at least thirteen media outlets, arrested at least 41 journalists, shuttered at least one non-governmental organisation, and increasingly exercised excessive state force at assemblies, with 18% of assemblies being violently interfered with by authorities in 2021.
This systematic attack on public discourse and dissenting voices is eroding the confidence of Cambodians in their ability to safely exercise their rights and encouraging widespread self-censorship.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, authorities imposed unduly restrictive policies and laws to the detriment of public participation and civic space. The government is advancing additional repressive legislation that could impede freedom of expression even further, including the draft Law on Cybercrime and the draft Law on Public Order.
Cambodia has a history of accepting a large number of UPR recommendations but continually failing to effectively implement most of them. The government must show that it takes this mechanism seriously and must demonstrate, through concrete actions, its genuine intention to effectively implement all outstanding UPR recommendations.
(Italics denotes text not read during oral statement.)