Written by Cheang Sokha and Georgia Wilkins
Wednesday, 17 June 2009
PRIME Minister Hun Sen, who famously soured relations with the former UN envoy for human rights, Yash Ghai, has welcomed his successor on his first visit to the country while at the same time warning him against being "ignorant" and biased.
"We will listen to his ideas, and we hope he will listen to our ideas," Hun Sen said Tuesday at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
"But I think he would not be ignorant and follow an ignorant person from his team previously.... Working with this rapporteur will not be difficult, but it will be difficult to work with people in [the local UN rights office] if they still have an ignorant stance towards the government."
Surya Subedi, the new envoy, began his first visit to the Kingdom on Monday and met with Foreign Minister Hor Namhong on Tuesday.
Though Tuesday's meeting was labelled a "protocol" meet-and-greet by UN officials, ministry spokespeople said afterwards that the government had appealed Subedi to be "just" when assessing rights in the country.
"What the government is wanting is justice, reality and transparency,"Ouch Borith, secretary of state at the Foreign Ministry, told reporters after the meeting.
"Hor Namhong told Mr Subedi that he should meet with and collect information from all government officials, not just listen to or get reports from NGOs, civil society groups or the opposition. [He] has to get reports from all sides," he added.
Ouch Borith also said the government had made a request to Subedi to check any report before it is sent to the UN.
"[We] want to check the report for balance," he said.
Subedi's predecessor Yash Ghai resigned from the post after receiving multiple personal attacks from Hun Sen and other top government officials.
UN human rights representative Christophe Peschoux would not comment on the meeting except to say that it did not deal with "substantial" issues and was rather a greeting.
The new envoy is to meet with the prime minister on Thursday morning and has also confirmed a meeting with the head of the government's human rights committee, Om Yentieng, later that day.