Keo Remy, president of the Cambodian Human Rights Committee (CHRC) has been appointed chairman of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) – the ASEAN regional human rights body – for the fifth mandate term of 2022-2024.
According to a letter of appointment from the Office of the Council of Ministers dated January 3, Remy is responsible for leading the work of the AICHR, the ASEAN regional human rights mechanism, and to manage the coherence of the human rights process at the national and regional levels and within the United Nations frameworks.
The CHRC was also prepared a budget proposal for organizing and chairing six meetings when Cambodia will host the AICHR 2022 meetiong, which was approved by Prime Minister Hun Sen on April 27, 2021, according to the letter.
CHRC spokesman Chin Malin told The Post on January 4 that Cambodia would take over the chairmanship of AICHR after Brunei. The President of AICHR, Remy, would lead and accomplish work related to the human rights situation in the region because the purpose of AICHR is to protect and promote human rights in ASEAN through the means of education, counselling and recommendations to the region.
“2022 may prove to be a year with some sensitive human rights issues related to the political situation in the region, especially the human rights situation in Myanmar and some other countries in the region,” he added.
According to Malin, the planning for the 2022 AICHR meeting has already been done. They will be focused on educating the ASEAN public on human rights issues and the available mechanisms for the protection of human rights through workshops, consultative meetings and outreach forums.
Malin said that the AICHR was not a deliberative body that resolved human rights issues or adjudicated them, rather it is a forum for cooperation and the promotion of human rights through education, dissemination and expansion of knowledge of the ASEAN nations and the region.
“Although this is a human rights mechanism, the implementation of the ASEAN Charter or any decisions must be based on consultation and consensus and AICHR will not directly interfere in the internal affairs of a sovereign state. Those are the guidelines that the AICHR must respect and implement,” he said.
Am Sam Ath, deputy director of monitoring at the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defence of Human Rights (LICADHO), said that Cambodia was in charge of chairing the AICHR because Cambodia was also chairing ASEAN.
However, he said, Cambodia has its own human rights issues at home that it is taking criticism over and should be dealt with.
He said that while Cambodia chaired the AICHR, Cambodia should show that there has been progress with the development of respect for human rights in the Kingdom.
If Cambodia continues to come under criticism from the United Nations and the international community regarding human rights without enacting any reforms or changes in response and always denying the issues exist, then Cambodia’s chairmanship of the AICHR will not be seen as legitimate, he added.
“I think Cambodia should address its human rights issues and improve them. Now we see that political issues have also pushed Cambodia to a state of decline with human rights. Therefore, it is necessary to solve the political and human rights issues here in accordance with the recommendations given [by others],” he said.