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Human rights: New UN Special Rapporteur on Cambodia launches her first official country visit

GENEVA / PHNOM PENH (13 May 2015) – The newly appointed United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia, Rhona Smith, will carry out her first official country visit from 18 to 22 May 2015, to gather first-hand information on the current human rights situation in Cambodia.

Ms. Smith was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council in March 2015 to monitor, report and advise on the situation of human rights in Cambodia, succeeding Surya P.Subedi, who completed his six-year term on the mandate on 30 April 2015.

The new independent expert has long practical experience in human rights education and capacity building, latterly in Cambodia. She also has an established academic career and has published on the UN human rights system, as well as human rights at regional and national levels.

“I am looking forward to my first visit to Cambodia as the UN Special Rapporteur, and to engaging in constructive dialogues with the Government and people of Cambodia on the promotion and protection of human rights,” she said.

“I intend to meet with a broad cross-section of government and society in order to better understand the human rights situation in Cambodia,” Ms. Smith added.

The Special Rapporteur undertakes regular visits or missions to Cambodia at the invitation of the Government and reports annually to the Human Rights Council.

The expert will submit her first report, following this country visit, and thereafter will present it to the 30th session of the Human Rights Council in September 2015.

Ms. Smith will hold a press conference at the end of her visit, on Friday 22 May at 3 p.m. at the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR), 10 Street 302, Boeung Keng Kang 1, in Phnom Penh. Access to the press conference is strictly limited to journalists.

Professor Rhona Smith (United Kingdom) was appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council in March 2015, succeeding Professor Surya P. Subedi, who completed his six-year term on the mandate in March 2015. The mandate of the Special Rapporteur derives from the Paris Peace Accords Agreement on a comprehensive political settlement of the Cambodian conflict. Ms. Smith is a Professor of international human rights in the United Kingdom. Ms. Smith has also been a visiting professor at Pannasastra University in Cambodia where she worked on designing and developing course curricula for the re-launch of Cambodia’s first master level program in human rights law.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, country page – Cambodia: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/KHIndex.aspx and http://cambodia.ohchr.org

For additional information and media requests, please contact:

In Phnom Penh: Ms. Bushra Rahman, (+855 12 790 178 / brahman@ohchr.org)

In Geneva: Ms. Olga Nakajo (+41 791096872 / +81 12777831 / onakajo@ohchr.org) or write to srcambodia@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:

Xabier Celaya, Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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Check the Universal Human Rights Index: http://uhri.ohchr.org/en