UN rights office urges probe into clashes between security forces, protesters in Cambodia

OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani. Photo: UN Multimedia

18 July 2014 – The United Nations today said it is deeply concerned about the clashes that erupted earlier this week in the Cambodian capital between security forces and opposition supporters, during which dozens of people were injured, and urged an investigation into the violence.

Members of the main opposition party had gathered in Freedom Park in Phnom Penh on 15 July to protest against the barricading of the only designated area for public demonstrations in the capital, according to information from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

“We are particularly alarmed at the ongoing arrests of leaders of the Cambodia National Rescue Party following the violence,” OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani told reporters in Geneva.

“We are concerned about the very serious charges which were brought against them, including ‘insurrection’, given the widely observed efforts by opposition leaders to calm the protesters and stop the violence during the clashes. Any politically motivated charges must be dropped immediately.”

OHCHR called on the judicial authorities to strictly abide by human rights standards in the pursuit of these cases, recalling the seriously flawed processes surrounding other recent cases.

“We also urge the Cambodian authorities to launch a prompt, effective, impartial and transparent investigation and to ensure those responsible for these violent incidents are held accountable,” said Ms. Shamdasani.

The Office called on all sides to exercise maximum restraint and to resume negotiations to end the political deadlock, and stressed that all restrictions on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly must be lifted immediately.

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