United Nations


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

29 October 1996



General Assembly
Fifty-first session
Agenda item 110 (b)

                             FUNDAMENTAL FREEDOMS

             Recommendations made by the Special Representative of
             the Secretary-General for human rights in Cambodia on
                          matters within his mandate

                        Report of the Secretary-General


       Comments and clarifications submitted on 17 September 1996 by the
       Government of Cambodia on the report of the Secretary-General on 
                    the human rights situation in Cambodia

1.   The Government of Cambodia acknowledges with sincere thanks
receipt of the draft report of the Secretary-General on the human
rights situation in Cambodia (A/51/453).

2.   As far as the draft report is concerned, the Government of
Cambodia is of the view that there are a number of points that
correctly assessed the gradual progress made in the implementation of
democracy and human rights in Cambodia.

3.   However, the Government has ascertained that the draft report also
contains other points that do not reflect the political will,
determination and great effort of the Government of Cambodia in the
implementation and improvement of the democratic and human rights
process in Cambodia and for that reason it would like to make a few
comments and clarifications.

                             1.  Children's rights

4.   The issue of children's rights in Cambodia is one of the highest
priorities of concern to the Government.  Therefore, the Government
has adopted different laws and regulations to protect children's
rights in accordance with international conventions.

5.   Although a great effort has been made by the Government, with the
active participation of non-governmental organizations, in the
implementation of these laws and regulations, there is still abuse of
children's rights, as is well known.  Child sex workers, who come from
poor families, still exist and they continue to exist and they
continue to exist because of bad morality and the inadequacies of some
local authorities' officials.

6.   In pursuit of the objective of protecting children's rights, the
law on "Protection of Kidnapping, Human Trading and Exploitation" was
promulgated on 29 February 1996.  Article 3 of that law clearly states
that those who engage in human kidnapping and exploitation will be
imprisoned for from 15 to 20 years.

7.   The Cambodian National Council for Children (CNCC) was created in
November 1995, with the Co-Prime Ministers as Honorary Chairmen and
the State Secretary of Social Welfare, Labour and Veteran Affairs as
Chairman.  This Council has as its primary responsibility to promote
the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in
Cambodia.  In the near future, the Government will draft another law
on drug control, which strictly condemns those who grow addictive
plants, or who produce, use, distribute and trade in illegal drugs.

8.   Following is a list of some of the legal documents that have been
adopted to ensure and promote the implementation in Cambodia of the
Convention on the Rights of the Child:

     (a) Labour Law (1992);

     (b) Law on Marriage and the Family (1989);

     (c) Penal Code in Transition (1993);

     (d) Constitution (1993);

     (e) Sub-decree No. 17 on Youth Rehabilitation;

     (f) Policy Programme of the Royal Government (1994);

     (g) Decision No. 34 (28 March 1994) on the establishment of an
inter-ministerial committee to prepare a report on human rights for
the United Nations;

     (h) Directive No. 474 of the Ministry of Interior (2 June 1994)
on the establishment of associations;

     (i) Directive No. 476 of the Ministry of Justice (9 September
1994) on relocating children in prison to the Youth Rehabilitation

     (j) Decision No. 79 (23 June 1987) of the Council of Ministers on
the policy for placing orphans and homeless people in the State
Homeless Centre;

     (k) Decision No. 79 (23 June 1987) of the Council of Ministers on
the adoption of orphans by Cambodians;

     (l) Letter No. 549 (25 March 1991) from the Council of Ministers
on the proposal for the adoption of orphans by foreigners;

     (m) Decision No. 181 (20 December 1990) of the Council of
Ministers on labour rehabilitation, vocational training and payments
to the disabled;

     (n) Directive No. 1300 (12 July 1982) on working hours and

     (o) Decision No. 291 (12 February 1983) on insurance policies;

     (p) Decree No. 30 (20 November 1986) of the Council of Ministers
on the general education system;

     (q) Decision No. 42 (20 December 1991) on the Council of
Ministers on scholarships and assistance for internships;

     (r) Letter No. 1621 (21 October 1992) from the Ministry of
Education on human rights education, the crime of genocide, the
protection of women, morality, traffic law, health and food;

     (s) Letter No. 21 (12 October 1993) on the teaching of human
rights at primary and secondary schools;

     (t) Law (29 February 1996) on protection of kidnapping and human
trading and exploitation;

     (u) Sub-decree establishing the Cambodian National Council for
Children (20 November 1995) concerning the implementation in Cambodia
of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and of government
policies relating to the rights of children.

9.   The Government will also take strict measures:

     (a) To bring to court all those who have engaged in sexual

     (b) To close down all brothels and hotels/guest houses that
continue to abuse children's rights.

10.  However, as previously stated, Cambodia has faced difficulties in
implementing the Convention and the laws and policies.  Therefore,
education and implementation must go hand in hand with each other,
which means that the Government, the Centre for Human Rights and
non-governmental organizations must work actively together.

11.  As a country that has survived war and genocide, Cambodia needs
both moral and material assistance from the world community,
especially the United Nations.  But it also requires good coordination
to avoid confusion and duplication.  Indeed, it will impede the
development process if the wrong decisions are made owing to a lack of

                2.  State of law and independence of the Court

12.  The National Assembly and the Government often consider how to
strengthen the state of law in Cambodia.  The Prime Ministers and
other ministers never interfere in the juridical affairs.  In cases
where a complaint is lodged against the Government, the Government
always appoints a lawyer to represent it.

13.  The Ministry of Justice is in charge of the courts but only deals
with administrative matters and does not interfere in the judicial
decision-making process.  The Ministry often takes strict measures,
such as rotating staff or removing those who commit an offence, in
order to prevent the court system from becoming corrupt.

14.  Concerning the transfer or appointment of judges and the General
Prosecutor, which is the right of the Supreme Council of Magistracy,
the Ministry of Justice has prepared a report for submission to the
Supreme Council of Magistracy for its consideration and approval on
measures related to nomination, transfer or punishment of judges and
the General Prosecutor, especially when offences are committed.

15.  The Constitutional Council, whose duty it is to safeguard respect
for the Constitution and to interpret it and the laws passed by the
National Assembly, does not yet have an organic law to define its
organization and functioning because the Council does not yet have the
sufficient number of members.  The National Assembly has not yet
appointed its representative; in addition, one of the King's
representatives died and the Supreme Council of Magistracy, which has
still to appoint three members, has not yet held its first meeting.

16.  However, the Government attaches great importance to the drafting
of legislation on the organization and functioning of the
Constitutional Council.  The two Prime Ministers have given high
priority to this matter and it is hoped that the Supreme Council of
Magistracy will soon be conveyed.

17.  There is sometimes a problem of disregard of court decisions in
civil trial cases but the Government makes an effort to backstop the
effective enforcement of these decisions.  The disregard of court
decisions will be dealt with in the proposed civil code to be adopted
by the National Assembly.

18.  There are 130 judges and prosecutors for all the courts in
Cambodia.  This number is insufficient to meet the requirements of the
country.  To tackle this problem the Ministry of Justice in
collaboration with the Government of France trained 42 judges and
prosecutors in 1995.

19.  The proposal for the nomination of these newly trained judges and
prosecutors is pending and awaiting the decision of the Supreme
Council of Magistracy.  In addition to the assistance provided by the
Government of France, the Government of Cambodia has also requested
the United Nations to encourage its Members States to help in the
provision of training of Cambodian judges.

20.  Legal proceedings in penal and civil cases often experience delays
in countries where there is a shortage of judges, low economic
development and insecurity.  However, delays are not always caused by
a lack of judges, they are sometimes a result of limited government
finances making it difficult to travel for the purpose of
investigation and to obtain evidence.  For example, if a criminal has
escaped and fled to the jungle under Khmer Rouge control, an arrest
cannot be made because of an inability to obtain evidence for
accusation and filing in the legal proceeding.

21.  In principle, a judge has privileges in reaching a decision. 
After receiving a complaint or accusation from the prosecutor in a
penal case, the judge always investigates the background and searches
for evidence before sending the case to court.  In all proceedings,
both parties, the accuser and the accused, have a chance to defend
themselves and are questioned.  For cases in which the parties
concerned have lawyers, the court always provides them with time to
study the file.  According to the law, a lawyer has 15 days to study
the file before proceeding.  In criminal cases, a lawyer must be
provided to the accused, if he or she does not have a lawyer.  All
decisions of the court are made in accordance with legal procedure. 
Inappropriate decisions of a lower court will be rejected by the
higher court.

22.  Another unavoidable situation is that most of the judges were
appointed by the previous Government, which governed almost all
territory of Cambodia and had an established court system.  Though
they were appointed by the former regime, the judges are competent and
can ensure the independence of their decisions.  Not all of the judges
are members of the Cambodian People's Party; some belong to other
political parties, which is their right.

23.  All court decisions are subject to implementation.  Nevertheless,
weaknesses remain in implementation, such as delays in releasing
prisoners when their sentence expires owing to a lack of understanding
and negligence on the part of the staff.  The Ministry of Justice from
time to time advises and directs those who implement the decisions of
the courts and punishes those who breach those decisions.

                                 3.  Elections

24.  The Government of Cambodia expresses its position strongly that
the election of commune chiefs and the general elections will be held
in 1997-98 based (a) on free and fair and democratic principles and
(b) on the principle of sovereignty of the Kingdom of Cambodia, and
with the presence of local and international observers.

25.  The Government would like to suggest some corrections in the
report (A/51/453), as follows:

     (a) Paragraph 78:  the total number of communes in Cambodia is
1,453 (not 1,200 as stated in the report);

     (b) Paragraph 81:  the third sentence should read:  "The
Electoral Law Drafting Commission has already finished the drafting of
the law on the administration of communes and the law on commune
election and is currently drafting the law on general election."

26.  According to the plan of the Ministry of Interior, the draft laws
will be submitted to the Government's Cabinet for consideration and
approval and will be forwarded to the National Assembly for adoption
before the end of 1996.

27.  The draft law on the election of commune chiefs stipulated
measures to ensure safety and security at election time.  All members
of the armed forces and officials working in the Elections Committee
and the Control Committee will have neutral position in the election
period and in implementation.  The draft law provides for equal
opportunities in the use of propaganda in the campaign, the
confidentiality of the election and punishment for those involved in
election offences.

28.  Both the national and international non-governmental organizations
and the international organizations can send representatives to be
observers with the Elections Committee and the election offices.

29.  The laws mentioned above were drafted by the Ministry of Interior
with the participation of representatives of non-governmental
organizations.  In the report:

     (a) Paragraph 82 should be deleted since it is now covered in new
paragraph 81;

     (b) Paragraph 132 (b) should also be deleted as it is now covered
in new paragraph 81.

30.  The Government expresses the hope that these comments will, to
some extent, contribute to a better understanding of the efforts made
so far by the Government to improve the human rights situation,
notwithstanding the countless difficulties and lack of human and
financial resources faced by the Government, at a time when it is
simultaneously attempting to address other priority problems.

(Signed)  NORODOM Ranariddh                           (Signed)  HUN Sen       
         First Prime Minister                            Second Prime Minister


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