UN Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights Calls for Moratorium on Evictions – Thursday, 28.5.2009

Posted on 28 May 2009. Filed under: Week 614 |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 614

nda"In its first review of the compliance by Cambodia with a principal human rights treaty, an independent UN panel calls for a moratorium on evictions in Cambodia. UN human rights officials ask the Cambodian government to make more efforts to stop the abuses and evictions of sick, poor, and powerless people.

“Many recommendations of the UN Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights call on Cambodia to ensure that its courts really protect human rights, end the culture of violence and impunity in Cambodia, and spend more time on social services for housing, food, and education. According to an advance copy of the recommendations released on Monday 25 May 2009 – the final document had not yet been released – Cambodia fails to observe the most important parts of the International Covenant of 1976 on economic, social, and cultural rights, which are considered to be an important part of the International Bill of Human Rights.

Note:

The International Bill of Human Rights consists of the following:

  • Universal Declaration of Human Rights
  • International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
  • International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
  • Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
  • Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty

“It is assumed that the committee of 18 legal experts expressed their position with strong words on Cambodia because of the general documented criticism by different human rights organizations, and the decision of the Cambodian government not to send expert representatives to attend the review panel of the UN committee on 11 and 12 May 2009 in Geneva, Switzerland. Cambodia sent only two people to meet with the UN committee, including the Cambodian ambassador to Switzerland Sun Suon. The difficult man Om Yentieng, the chairperson of the government’s Cambodian Committee on Human Rights, could not yet be reached for comment about the voice of the UN Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights.

“It should be noted that the first report of Cambodia sent to the UN committee was in 1994. Moreover, regular reports of donor countries about the progress of the recommendations of the UN committee said that that Cambodians are insecure in their homes, health, and education. Also thousands of powerless people have been evicted.

“The review report said, ‘The committee is gravely concerned over reports that since the year 2000, over 100,000 people were evicted in Phnom Penh alone; that at least 150,000 Cambodians continue to live under the threat of forced eviction; and that authorities of the state party are actively involved in land-grabbing.’ The committee urges the state party to implement a moratorium on all evictions until the proper legal framework is in place, and the process of land titling is completed, in order to ensure the protection of human rights of all Cambodians, including indigenous people” [quoted from The Cambodia Daily].

“Regarding the above recommendations, the parliamentarian Cheam Yeap from the Cambodian People’s Party from Prey Veng, said that the call for a moratorium is an intervention by foreigners into Cambodian affairs. The much talking man Cheam Yeap explained the eviction measures of the government, ‘They are part of the plan to develop the country and the cities.’ Moreover, he accused some villagers of exaggerating their numbers in order to receive compensation.

“Cambodia has signed the nine so-called core human rights treaties and ratified or acceded to six of them. However, like many other countries, Cambodia has often delayed or disregarded the requirements of reporting on its observance of the treaties. The Human Rights Committee, which monitors observance of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, reviewed Cambodia in 1999 but has not heard from the government since.

Note:

There are eight human rights treaty bodies that monitor implementation of the core international human rights treaties:

  • Human Rights Committee (CCPR)
  • Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR)
  • Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD)
  • Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)
  • Committee Against Torture (CAT) & Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT) – Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture
  • Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
  • Committee on Migrant Workers (CMW)
  • Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)

There are nine core international human rights treaties, one of which – on enforced disappearance – has not yet entered into force.

“The UN committee’s concluding observations welcomed what it called positive developments, such as the 2007 findings by the Constitutional Council, saying that ratified human rights treaties have to be observed by Cambodian courts, and the adoption in the same year of a new Penal Code, as well as plans to increase the share of women in the civil service. The committee, however, called for the creation of an independent Cambodian human rights body, the adoption of the 14-year-old draft anti-corruption law, and that social impact assessments should be carried out when economic concessions are granted within Cambodia’s protected areas.

“In a global study of the observance of the treaties, law professors Christof Heyns and Frans Vijoen of the University of Pretoria in South Africa, found that because of criticism from treaties bodies, Russia had significantly reduced the number of crimes punishable by death, Egypt had released prisoners held under emergency legislation, and the Colombian government abolished the use of armed civilian militias in its ongoing civil war.

“‘The unfortunate result is that the countries that most often end up being singled out as human rights violators are those where there is also active engagement. Within the system, more criticism seems to be the response for a higher level of engagement,’ according to the study. Jan Klabbers, deputy director of the Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights in Helsinki/Finland, said the public should temper what it expects of the UN human rights treaties [the four paragraphs above are also quoted from The Cambodia Daily]

“Human rights observers in Cambodia said that the call of the UN Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights for a moratorium on evictions to the Khmer government led by Prime Minister Hun Sen is in line with the obvious situation, since in recent years, hundreds of Khmer families have been evicted violently and unjustly by the Hun Sen government, colluding with dishonest merchants. Obviously, more than 4,000 families in the Boeng Kak Lake area are facing eviction, because the Hun Sen government already handed over the land in that area to the Shukaku company for construction development, without caring about the impact on the life of the residents. Therefore, the UN committee has to observe the activities of the Hun Sen government carefully in order to prevent high ranking officials of the government from colluding with dishonest merchants to mistreat poor citizens as they like.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3769, 28.5.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 28 May 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #196, 28.5.2009

  • Armed Forces Are Used to Implement the Judgment to Seize Innocent Citizens’ Houses Unjustly; Villagers Offer Their Thumbprints to Supports [two] Victimized Families [who has lived on their land since 1983 – Russey Keo, Phnom Penh]
  • Garment Buying Order from Cambodia May Rise by 10% at the International Market
  • ,Cambodia Receives 400,000 Kilowatt/hours of Electricity from Vietnam per Day [since the operation began, connected from Vietnam]
  • otObama Nominates Hispanic Woman [Ms. Sonia Sotomayor] to the Supreme Court

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1955, 28.5.2009

  • About 100 Civil Society Activists and Burmese People Demand the Release of Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi [in front of the Burmese Embassy in Phnom Penh]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #412, 28.5.2009

  • The Phnom Penh Municipality Agrees to Allow Khmer Kampuchea Krom People to Celebrate the Commemoration of the Territory’s Loss

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6661, 28.5.2009

  • New Monivong Bridge Is Inaugurated, and a Fly-Over Road Construction Site Is Opened [Phnom Penh]
  • Prime Minister Samdech [Hun Sen] Asks Petroleum Companies to Increase and Decrease Fuel Prices Following the International Market Price Movements

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3769, 28.5.2009

  • UN Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights Calls on the Khmer Government to Stop Evicting Citizens

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4905, 28.5.2009

  • The ASEAN-European Union Foreign Affairs Ministerial Meeting [in Phnom Penh] Began with a Call to Release Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi
  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Asks Development Partners and Different Companies to Use the Human Resources of Cambodia
  • New Zealand Will Increase Aid for Cambodia to US$5 Million per Year
  • The Czech Republic Returns Money [US$800,000] Which Cambodia Had Paid Back to Clear a Dept – but the Czech Republic Donates it to Cambodia to Assist the Heath Sector
  • Cambodia and Thailand Sign Deal to Strengthen Construction Quality
  • The Royal Government Decides to Hand Over the Former National Assembly Building to the Supreme Court

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.

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