Cambodia protest deaths: UN rights expert urges calm and restraint by all sides

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GENEVA (3 January 2014 ) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia, Surya P. Subedi, has reiterated his appeal for calm after military police on Friday opened fire on striking garment workers, reportedly killing at least four people.

This is the third time since the disputed July 2013 general election that the authorities have shot into a crowd and caused fatalities. 

“I am deeply concerned at the latest clashes in Cambodia and deplore the loss of life.  I call on the authorities to exercise restraint towards protestors. Any use of force by officials must be subject to the principles of legality, necessity and proportionality,” Mr Subedi said.

“There must be a swift and independent investigation into whether excessive force had been used on this occasion and the previous two occasions,” he added.

Mr. Subedi also expressed concern that some demonstrators were increasingly resorting to violence and had been throwing stones and damaging property.

“I also call upon all protesters, regardless of the reason for their protest, to exercise maximum restraint,” said the Independent Expert.

The Special Rapporteur again called for meaningful negotiations over the demands by garment workers, who began protesting several weeks ago for an increase in the minimum wage.

The strikes by garment workers have added fuel to the political demonstrations organised since July by the opposition party to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Hun Sen and a rerun of the election.

“Cambodia is now seeing daily demonstrations. It is to be welcomed that Cambodians now feel able to exercise their right to protest but protests must be peaceful,” Mr Subedi said.

ENDS

(*) Check the Special Rapporteur’s latest report to the Human Rights Council (A/HRC/24/36): http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session24/Pages/ListReports.aspx

ENDS

Professor Surya P. Subedi was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council as the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Cambodia in March 2009. As Special Rapporteur, he is independent from any government or organisation and serves in his individual capacity. He is currently Professor of International Law at the University of Leeds and a practising Barrister in the United Kingdom. He also is the editor of the Asian Journal of International Law (published by Cambridge University Press) and the Vice-President of the Asian Society of International Law.

UN Human Rights, country page – Cambodia: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/KHIndex.aspx

For additional information and media enquiries, please contact Ajith Sunghay (+41 22 928 9353 / asunghay@ohchr.org) or write to srcambodia@ohchr.org

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