UN rights expert appeals for calm amid growing demonstrations in Cambodia

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Surya P. Subedi

An expert on the situation of human rights in Cambodia on Friday reiterated his call for calm and restraint as demonstrations are now taking place daily in Phnom Penh.

UN Special Rapporteur Surya P. Subedi, said "Demonstrations such as those of recent days and weeks are a new sight in Cambodia, adding: he was "pleased to see that the democratic space has increased to such extent that so many Cambodians feel comfortable to express themselves in the streets without fear of retaliation."

The expert urged the authorities to continue to facilitate peaceful demonstrations and to exercise restraint towards protestors. He also called on the demonstrators, who include striking garment workers, and factory managers not to resort to violence.

And with members of the opposition continuing their boycott of the Cambodian National Assembly, Mr. Subedi urged both political parties to resume negotiations to resolve the current political deadlock.

He said "Any dispute needs a credible mechanism for dispute resolution which is acceptable to both sides. Such a mechanism was missing and this is why frustrated opposition supporters have taken to the streets," adding: "It is imperative that both sides come back to the negotiating table".

Mr. Subedi also called for meaningful talks to resolve the current dispute over the minimum wage, saying all parties – the Government, striking workers, trade unions, the factories and buyers – needed to reassure protesting workers that they would develop a realistic wage structure.

The UN Special Rapporteur expressed cautious optimism for 2014 as Cambodia faces numerous calls for reform from all sides.

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 1’31″

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