By Lauren Crothers
PHNOM PENH (AA) - United Nations Secretary-General this week told Cambodia’s new Minister of Foreign Affairs of his concerns in the wake of what appears to be the latest government crackdown on several sectors in society.
In a statement issued Wednesday, the UN said Ban Ki-moon spoke with Prak Sokhon late Tuesday, during which Ban “expressed his concerns about reports of widespread intimidation, harassment and arrests of civil society actors, the media, staff and members of the National Election Commission, and members of the opposition.”
“The Secretary-General conveyed his hope that the Government of Cambodia would ensure full respect for human rights, including the freedoms of expression, association, and assembly,” the statement added.
“He called for the resumption of the culture of dialogue between the Cambodian People’s Party and the Cambodia National Rescue Party."
As it stands, the leader of the opposition CNRP is in self-imposed exile; his deputy is holed up at party headquarters to avoid being arrested over his refusal to be questioned about an extra-marital affair, and five people who assisted the mistress have been jailed ahead of trial for allegedly bribing her to deny the tryst.
In addition, both the ministry of information and Prime Minister Hun Sen separately threatened media outlets in May.
Hun Sen claimed he had been misquoted, while the ministry said outlets that refuse to refer to the premier by his full royally bestowed title could have their licenses revoked.
On Thursday, The Cambodia Daily reported the release of the latest results from the Institute for Economics and Peace’s Global Peace Index, which placed Cambodia 104th out of 163 countries this year. The institute said political instability was the primary reason that peace has been “hampered” in Cambodia.
Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan and Foreign Ministry spokesman Chum Sounry could not be reached for comment Thursday.