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Rights groups urge Hun Sen to meet with U.N. rights envoy.

PHNOM PENH, Dec. 18 Kyodo

Five international human rights organizations on Tuesday called on Prime Minister Hun Sen to meet with and end verbal attacks on the U.N. human rights envoy Yash Ghai.

''Hun Sen's tirade against the U.N. is the latest in a long series of attacks and lack of cooperation with Ghai and the three U.N. special representatives who preceded him,'' said Basil Fernando, executive director of the Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission.

The five organizations -- Human Rights Watch, the Asian Human Rights Commission, the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), and the World Organization against Torture (OMCT) -- issued a joint statement Tuesday.

At the end of a 10-day fact-finding mission to Cambodia last week, Ghai raised concerns of land grabbing and illegal forced evictions of Cambodia's urban and rural poor.

He noted that communities forced off their land have little judicial recourse or legal protections because the judiciary is corrupt and the Land Law is not properly implemented. He further noted that victims are increasingly ending up in prison for trying to defend their land and their human rights.

Hun Sen subsequently called Ghai, a distinguished professor of constitutional law in Kenya who has been special representative since 2005, a ''human rights tourist'' and vowed to never meet him.

''There's no denying the facts. Expropriation of the land of Cambodia's poor is reaching a disastrous level, the courts are politicized and corrupt, and impunity for human rights violators remains the norm,'' Fernando said.

Government officials charged that the U.N. envoy was trying to incite Cambodians to oppose the government and rejected as ''inaccurate'' Ghai's assessment of Cambodia's rights situation.

Since the establishment of the U.N. office for human rights in Cambodia 1993, four special envoys have been assigned to Cambodia on human rights issues.
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Publication:Asian Political News
Date:Dec 22, 2007
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