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Prime Minister Hun Sen threatens to close down Cambodian Center for Human Rights

CCHR Executive Director Chak Sopheap speaks to the media during Cambodia's Universal Periodic Review, 29 & 30 June 2017
CCHR Executive Director Chak Sopheap speaks to the media during Cambodia's Universal Periodic Review, 29 & 30 June 2017

Facebook/CCHRCambodia

This statement was originally published on cchrcambodia.org on 26 November 2017.

Following comments made by Prime Minister Hun Sen on 26 November 2017, in which he ordered the Ministry of Interior ("MoI") to investigate and shut down the Cambodian Center for Human Rights ("CCHR"), CCHR wishes to restate its steadfast independence from all political parties, and its firm commitment to promote human rights in a principled manner.

Since its foundation in 2002, CCHR has undertaken vital work to promote and protect the values and rights, which are enshrined in Cambodia's Constitution and international human rights treaties which Cambodia has voluntarily ratified. CCHR works on a wide variety of human rights issues, varying from human rights education, to the empowerment of rural communities affected by land conflicts, and the promotion of LGBTIQ equality. It has assisted countless victims of human rights violations in their pursuit of justice by providing free legal aid and related support. These activities directly and significantly contribute to Cambodia's sustainable development.

Mr. Kem Sokha, the currently detained leader of the recently-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party ("CNRP") founded CCHR in 2002 and later resigned in 2007, before founding the Human Rights Party ("HRP"). CCHR has been through two changes in leadership since the resignation of Kem Sokha.

CCHR wishes to re-affirm its absolute non-partisanship and independence from all political parties. Strict independence is a core value of CCHR, which strives to provide a balanced and principled human rights analysis of public affairs, without favoring any party. In fact, CCHR is one of the very few groups in Cambodia which has faced backlash from both the ruling party and the opposition as a result of its principled criticism of their policies, actions or rhetoric.

A small number of CCHR's former staff members have entered politics or joined various political parties, including both the opposition CNRP and the ruling Cambodian People's Party ("CPP"). Although CCHR supports the right of every individual to enter politics, CCHR is not influenced in any way by former staff members who have entered politics.

CCHR firmly believes that any independent and impartial investigation into CCHR would find no wrongdoing whatsoever on the part of the organization. CCHR calls upon the Royal Government of Cambodia to enter into a meaningful dialogue with CCHR representatives in relation to these allegations, in the firm belief that any misperceptions about the nature of CCHR's work and neutrality could be clarified, and the matter resolved.

CCHR plans to continue the pursuit of its core mission of promoting respect for human rights in Cambodia, on the basis of its core institutional values of independence, transparency, equality and non-discrimination.

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