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Cambodia refutes UN rights commissioner’s election remarks

People line up to vote at a polling station in Phnom Penh on July 23.
People line up to vote at a polling station in Phnom Penh on July 23. Hong Menea

Cambodia refutes UN rights commissioner’s election remarks

The Cambodian Permanent Mission to the UN Offices in Geneva described the July 23 general election as free, fair, transparent, inclusive and peaceful, as it refuted claims by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk that the polls took place in a restrictive environment. The Mission dismissed the remarks as misleading and overly politicised.

In a press release dated July 27, the Mission countered that maintaining the rule of law through the equal application of administrative and legal measures should not be construed as restricting the freedom of certain groups. All political parties, candidates, activists, trade unions, NGOs and media outlets are subject to identical treatment under Cambodian laws, it said.

In rejecting the claims, the Mission pointed to the more than 8.2 million voters exercising their constitutional right as evidence to the contrary. The turnout of 84.58 per cent, which it said exceeded that of the previous general elections since 2003, was one of the highest globally and attested to Cambodia's robust political pluralism and vibrant democracy.

It emphasised that the electoral process was closely watched by 422 international observers from 65 nationalities and 61 institutions, including international organisations, foreign governments and Cambodian diaspora communities. Nearly 60,000 political party agents and 90,000 independent local observers were also present. These monitoring teams, it added, publicly acknowledged the free, fair, transparent, peaceful, and inclusive nature of the 2023 election.

It reiterated Cambodia's unwavering commitment to political pluralism, peaceful democracy and the promotion of human rights. They called for external actors to respect the Cambodian voters' will and their choice of political party to lead the country towards peace, stability and long-term prosperity.

The body expressed its hope that the High Commissioner for Human Rights would consider these facts and act with “impartiality, objectivity and non-selectivity”, in line with the founding Resolution of the High Commissioner's mandate A/RES/48/141, which calls for respect for the sovereignty and domestic jurisdiction of states, as well as the well-established principles of non-interference in states' internal affairs as outlined in the UN Charter.


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