Appeal from parliamentarians for the reactivation of the Paris agreements on Cambodia
A worrying authoritarian trend has been noticeable in Cambodia over the last few years. It shows in the form of a deterioration in the human rights situation, the stifling of fundamental freedoms, a brutal policy of land grabbing that affects essentially the poor, the suppression of all forms of criticism and protest, the persecution of the parliamentary opposition and activists of the civil society, the use of the judicial power for political ends and a drift toward a one-party system.
A written statement by Amnesty International to the 15th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in September 2010 says, “the systemic lack of protection of human rights in Cambodia arises from long-standing impunity for human rights violations [and] very serious shortcomings in the rule of law. The legal system remains biased against the poor and marginalized. Forced evictions continue to affect thousands of families, predominantly people living in poverty. Actions in the courts [initiated by the government] against housing rights defenders, journalists and other critical voices stifle freedom of expression.” Amnesty International strongly calls for an end to the “ongoing serious human rights violations” in Cambodia.
Amnesty International’s observations are corroborated by reports from Professor Surya Subedi, the UN Special Rapporteur for the situation of human rights in Cambodia. In his last annual report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva last month, the UN Envoy deplores that victims of all sorts of abuses in Cambodia seem to be “desperate for justice,” and is “concerned about the narrowing of political space in the country for people belonging to the opposition political parties and other political activists.”
On the same topic and in the same period of time, a coalition of sixteen best-known local NGOs denounces a recent series of “political trials” and rings the alarm bell by stressing that Cambodia is at risk of becoming a “de-facto one-party state” as during war time.
Nineteen years ago, in order to put an end to war and massacres and to help in the reconstruction of Cambodia, the international community, under the aegis of the United Nations, brought all Cambodian factions together so as to achieve national reconciliation and to lay the foundations of a system of liberal democracy, on the basis of pluralism. It is this type of political system that the international community accepted to guarantee for Cambodia by signing the Paris Agreements on October 23, 1991 (*).
In effect, the Paris Agreements guarantee that “all persons in Cambodia shall enjoy the rights and freedoms embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights” (Article 3 of the Agreement Concerning the Sovereignty, Independence, Territorial Integrity and Inviolability, Neutrality and National Unity of Cambodia). Their signatories represented by eighteen friendly countries including all Western powers and also Australia and Japan, “undertake to promote and encourage respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Cambodia” (Article 15 of the Agreement on a Comprehensive Political Settlement of the Cambodia Conflict). Besides, important Annexes to that Agreement legally bind Cambodia to “a system of liberal democracy, on the basis of pluralism”. The official texts more specifically promise the Cambodian people the respect for “fundamental rights ”, “an independent judiciary”, “due process et equality before the law”, “protection from arbitrary deprivation of property” and “periodic and genuine elections”, but all these fundamental elements of democracy have not materialized, which explains the current authoritarian, if not totalitarian, drift.
In order to put the democratization process back on track and to strengthen the mechanisms designed to protect human rights in Cambodia as enshrined in the Paris Agreements, the governments of signatory countries and donor institutions such as the European Commission must immediately take adequate measures to ensure the effective respect for all the relevant provisions of the Agreements.
Guided by the desire to help consolidate democracy in Cambodia and to help this country achieve a harmonious and sustainable development on the basis of sound political foundations, the elected representatives from the Cambodian democratic opposition (**) and parliamentarians from friendly nations (***) together launch this Appeal for the reactivation of the 1991 Paris Agreements on Cambodia. They are doing it on the eve of the 19th anniversary of the historical signing of the Agreements, which is the coming 23rd day of October.
(*) Full text of the Agreements at http://tinyurl.com/24558zn
(**) 26 Cambodian National Assembly members and 2 Cambodian Senators from the Sam Rainsy Party initiated this Appeal.
(***) Parliamentarians from friendly countries who want to express their solidarity and support, please simply send your names to email@example.com. Thank you.
Members and contributors 2013
|Giuseppe R. Roma||590 €|
|Salvatore P. Capistrello||200 €|
|Giancarlo B. Torino||30 €|
|Marco B. Merano||20 €|
|Davide B. Prato||50 €|
|Giuseppe P. Grottammare||50 €|
|Maurizio T. Roma||1.000 €|
|Rosa A. Firenze||590 €|
|Giuliano G. Sondrio||590 €|
|Sergio Pasquale R. Cremona||500 €|
|Total SUM||326.746 €|