Cambodian democracy under threat from moves against opposition, UN expert warns


Cambodiaflag. GENEVA (12 October 2017) – Civil and political rights in Cambodia are deteriorating rapidly, with deeply worrying implications for forthcoming elections and the future of democracy in the country, a United Nations human rights expert has said.

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Brutal attacks on Rohingya meant to make their return almost impossible – UN human rights report


MyanmarFlag.GENEVA (11 October 2017) – Brutal attacks against Rohingya in northern Rakhine State have been well-organised, coordinated and systematic, with the intent of not only driving the population out of Myanmar but preventing them from returning to their homes, a new UN report based on interviews conducted in Bangladesh has found.

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UN Human Rights Office welcomes payout to migrant workers in Thailand, says criminal charges should be dropped


thaiflag. BANGKOK (15 Sept 2017) - The UN Human Rights Office for South-East Asia on Friday welcomed a court's decision to award 1.7 million Thai baht to 14 Myanmar migrant workers subjected to rights abuses, and called on Thailand authorities to immediately drop criminal charges filed against them.

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UN Human Rights chief seriously concerned by arrest of Cambodian opposition leader


Cambodiaflag.GENEVA (4 September 2017) – The UN Human Rights High Commissioner, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein is seriously concerned at the arrest of Cambodian opposition leader Kem Sokha, which appears to have been carried out with no respect for due process guarantees, including respect for his parliamentary immunity.

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Cambodia: UN Human Rights Office concerned by media clampdown


Cambodiaflag. GENEVA - (25 August 2017) The UN Human Rights Office is concerned by a rapid series of ministerial and administrative measures which have resulted in the suspension of radio programmes and licences, threatened a main English-language newspaper with closure, and shut down a foreign non-governmental organisation. Ahead of next year’s general election, we call on the Government to guarantee full political and civil rights, and media freedoms.

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Cambodia: UN expert launches new mission with focus on children’s rights


Cambodiaflag. GENEVA / PHNOM PENH (2 August 2017) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights in Cambodia, Rhona Smith, will carry out her fourth official visit to the country from 8 to 18 August 2017, to examine the rights of children and the general human rights situation.

“I will be focusing my mission on children’s rights as part of my ongoing work on discrimination and marginalized groups,” she noted. Read more...

UN Human Rights Office urges Thailand to drop cases against women human rights defenders


thaiflag. BANGKOK (1 August 2017) - The UN Human Rights Office for South-East Asia urges the Thai Government to allow women human rights defenders to conduct their work without fear, and to drop cases against the activists helping to protect community rights.

On 27 July, Suphap Kamlae, the wife of prominent land rights defender Den Kamlae who has been disappeared since April 2016, was found guilty of forest encroachment in relation to a legal dispute between her community in Chaiyaphum Province and the Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary. Read more...

Philippines needs urgent action to reverse spiralling rights violations, UN experts say


Philippinesflag. GENEVA (31 July 2017) – The Government of the Philippines must urgently address growing reports of human rights violations, including murder, threats against indigenous peoples and the summary execution of children, a group of United Nations experts has said.

"Attacks are spiralling against many groups in society and we are making an urgent appeal for Government action," the experts said in a joint call for action. Read more...

UN Human Rights Office concerned by crackdown on activists in Viet Nam


VietnamFlag.GENEVA (28 July 2017) – UN Human Rights Office is concerned about the intensifying crackdown against human rights defenders in Vietnam who have questioned or criticised the Government and its policies.

On Tuesday, a well-known activist, Tran Thi Nga, was sentenced to nine years’ imprisonment and five years’ house arrest for so-called “anti-State propaganda” over comments posted online. We have serious concerns about the severity of the sentence and the conduct of the trial, which does not appear to have met due process standards. Read more...

Myanmar: UN expert lists catalogue of concerns as human rights slide in worsening conflict


MyanmarFlag.GENEVA (24 July 2017) – A United Nations Special Rapporteur has issued a strongly worded statement accusing the Government of Myanmar of policies reminiscent of the previous military government, and of presiding over a worsening security and human rights situation.

Yanghee Lee, ending a 12-day visit to the country, listed a catalogue of concerns including reports of killings, torture, the use of human shields by security forces, deaths in custody and an ongoing humanitarian crisis for the Rohingya people and other minorities forced from their homes. Read more...

UN Human Rights Office calls on Singapore to halt execution for drugs charges


singaporeflag.BANGKOK (12 July 2017) - The UN Human Rights Office for South-East Asia calls on the Singaporean Government to halt the imminent execution of Malaysian national Prabagaran Srivijayan for a drugs related offence, and urges the Government to immediately instate a moratorium on the use of the death penalty.

On 6 July 2017, Mr. Srivijayan and his family were informed that he would be executed on 14 July 2017. His appeal for
clemency to the President of Singapore was declined on 7 July. Read more...

UN Human Rights Office concerned by the harsh sentencing of three activists in Lao PDR


lao flag.BANGKOK (23 June 2017) – The UN Human Rights Office for South-East Asia (OHCHR) is alarmed by the harsh sentencing of three activists in Lao PDR and calls for their release.

Based on an official document recently obtained, Mr. Somphone Phimmasone, Mr. Soukan Chaithad, and Ms. Lodkham Thammavong were convicted in late March 2017 to 20, 16, and 12 years imprisonment under the Penal Code. Read more...

Press Briefing on Lèse Majesté in Thailand


thaiflag.GENEVA (13 June 2017) – We are very concerned by the rise in the number of lèse majesté prosecutions in Thailand since 2014 and the severity of the sentencing, including a 35-year jail term handed down last Friday against one individual.

A Thai military court found Wichai Thepwong guilty of posting 10 photos, videos and comments on Facebook deemed defamatory of the royal family. Read more...

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UN Human Rights Office welcomes orderly communal vote in Cambodia, calls for re-opening civil society space


Cambodiaflag.BANGKOK (7 June 2017) – The UN Human Rights Office for South-East Asia welcomed the orderly conduct of voting in the communal elections held across Cambodia on 4 June, and expressed hope that the smooth and peaceful poll bodes well for the democratic process ahead of next year’s general election.

“We are pleased to have witnessed that the violence, military intervention, and arrests that were threatened prior to the elections did not take place and that the people of Cambodia expressed general satisfaction with the process,” said Katia Chirizzi, the deputy regional representative of the South-East Asia Office in Bangkok. Read more...

Press Briefing on LGBTI in Indonesia


Indonesiaflag.GENEVA (22 May 2017) – The UN Human Rights Office is concerned by the recent persecution, arbitrary arrest, detention and ill-treatment of men perceived to be gay in Indonesia.

In the past two months, more than 150 men were reportedly arrested in Aceh, Surabaya and Jakarta on the basis of alleged consensual relations between adults of the same sex. While many of them were reportedly released shortly after, some have been charged under a pornography law. Read more...

UN Human Rights Office urges Malaysian Government to investigate disappearance cases of religious community workers


MalaysiaFlag.BANGKOK (23 May 2017) - The United Nations Human Rights Office for South-East Asia expresses serious concern regarding the recent disappearances of community workers Amri Che Mat and Raymond Keng Joo Koh, and urges Malaysian authorities to urgently investigate the abductions of the two men associated with religious minority groups.

Mr. Che Mat, founder of the NGO Perlis Hope which provides assistance to the underprivileged, disappeared on 24 November 2016, and Mr. Koh, founder of Harapan Komuniti (Hope Community) that undertakes social and charity work among marginalized and underprivileged communities, disappeared on 13 February 2017. According to sources, both men were driving alone when they were forced to stop by a convoy of vehicles and swiftly taken away. Neither of the two men have been seen since. Read more...

Blasphemy law has no place in a tolerant nation like Indonesia – UN rights experts


Indonesiaflag.GENEVA (22 May 2017) – A group of United Nations human rights experts today urged the Government of Indonesia to review and repeal its criminalization of blasphemy. Their call comes after the recent blasphemy conviction and imprisonment of Indonesian politician and former governor of Jakarta, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (‘Ahok’).

“Criminal laws that penalize blasphemy represent an unlawful restriction on freedom of expression, and disproportionately target persons belonging to religious minorities or traditional religions, non-believers and political dissidents,” said the Special Rapporteurs on freedom of religion or belief, Ahmed Shaheed, and on freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye; and the Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, Alfred de Zayas. Read more...

Special Rapporteur rejects misinformation about her current academic visit to Philippines


Philippinesflag.GENEVA (5 May 2017) – The Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Agnes Callamard, has released the following statement clarifying reports in the Filipino media and rejecting misinformation about her current visit to Philippines to attend an academic conference:

“I am presently visiting Philippines to participate in an academic conference on drug related issues. It is normal routine for Special Rapporteurs to visit countries to attend different conferences or events, but such activities are not official country visits. Read more...

The UN Human Rights Office concerned by arrests of three Turkish nationals in Malaysia on security related charges


MalaysiaFlag.BANGKOK (5 May 2017) - The UN Human Rights Office for South-East Asia on Friday expressed serious concern about the arrests in Malaysia of three Turkish nationals on security related charges, and urges the Malaysian Government to refrain from deporting them to Turkey.

"There are concerns that these men may have been targeted over their suspected links to the Gülen movement which is accused of being behind a coup attempt in Turkey in July 2016," said Laurent Meillan, acting regional representative of the UN Human Rights Office in Bangkok. Read more...

UN Human Rights Office calls on Thailand to end arbitrary arrests and detentions of political activists


Thaiflag.BANGKOK (4 May 2017) - The United Nations Human Rights Office for South-East Asia (OHCHR) urges the Thai Government to halt the practice of arbitrary detention of political activists, and to immediately release six people recently charged with criticising authorities.

On 29 April 2017, two political activists - Mr. Danai Tibsuya, a former military officer from Chiang Mai, and Mr. Prawet Prapanukul, a Bangkok-based lawyer - were arrested and detained by the military under the lese-majeste law for criticising the King on Facebook. Read more...

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The concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee's review of Thailand's human rights record under the ICCPR are now available


Thaiflag.BANGKOK (28 March 2017) - The concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee review of Thailand's human rights record under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in Geneva earlier this month are now available online.

During the review, the Committee raised concerns about a number of issues including the military's growing role in government affairs, curbs on freedom of expression, detentions under the lese-majeste law and harassment of human rights defenders. Read more...

UN Human Rights Office condemns secretive executions of two brothers in Malaysia


Malayflag.BANGKOK (15 March 2017) - The UN Human Rights Office for South-East Asia condemns the executions of Malaysian brothers, Suthar Batumalai and B. Rames Batumalai, expressing concerns that the judicial procedures in their case did not fulfil the most stringent guarantees of fair trial and due process.

The two brothers, who were convicted of murder in 2010, were hanged on Wednesday, despite the submission of a clemency petition last month containing new evidence in the case. The men were granted a temporary stay of execution as a result of the petition. Read more...

UN Human Rights Office hails decision by Thailand to drop cases against three leading human rights defenders


Thaiflag.BANGKOK (7 March 2017) – The UN Human Rights Office for South-East Asia welcomes the decision by the Thai military to withdraw all charges against three prominent human rights defenders who documented allegations of torture.

The Director of the Cross-Cultural Foundation, Pornpen Khongkachonkiet, Anchana Heemmina, founder of the Duay Jai Group, and Somchai Homla-or, a well known senior human rights lawyer, were facing criminal charges over publication of a 2016 report that recounted allegations of torture by security forces in the southern border provinces. Read more...

UN Human Rights Office disappointed by Thailand’s decision not to enact a draft anti-torture and anti-disappearance law


Thaiflag.GENEVA (28 February) – The UN Human Rights Office is disappointed by Thailand’s decision not to enact a draft anti-torture and anti-disappearance law, and we call on the Government to promptly reintroduce legislation to criminalise such deplorable acts.

Despite the Government’s decision last May to enact the bill, we were informed last week that the National Legislative Assembly - the military-appointed parliament - has shelved the legislation which would have made enforced or involuntary disappearance and torture criminal offences. Read more...

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UN expert urges action to protect Rohingya population in Myanmar


MyanmarFlag.GENEVA (27 February) – The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar is calling for urgent action by the Government there to end the suffering of the Rohingya population in the country.

Speaking at the end of a four-day visit to Dhaka and Cox’s Bazar Yanghee Lee said: “the magnitude of violence that these families have witnessed and experienced is far more extensive than I had originally speculated.” Read more...

UN Human Rights Office concerned by Malaysia conviction over film screening


MalaysiaFlag.BANGKOK (22 February 2017) - We are concerned by a Malaysian court’s conviction of human rights activist Lena Hendry over a private screening of a documentary on the Sri Lankan civil war, and the chilling effect on the exercise of freedom of expression and assembly.

“Lena Hendry’s conviction for showing a film is a clear violation of her right to freedom of expression and assembly, and we urge the authorities to re-examine the case in line with international human rights law,” said Laurent Meillan, acting regional representative of OHCHR’s South-East Asia regional office. Read more...

UN rights expert concerned by the continued use of lèse-majesté prosecutions in Thailand


Thaiflag.GENEVA (7 February 2017) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion of freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, today called on the Thai authorities to stop using lèse-majesté provisions as a political tool to stifle critical speech. In Thailand, defaming, insulting or threatening the royal family carries a penalty of three to fifteen years’ imprisonment.

“Public figures, including those exercising the highest political authority, may be subject to criticism, and the fact that some forms of expression are considered to be insulting to a public figure is not sufficient to justify restrictions or penalties,” the expert underlined. Read more...

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Devastating cruelty against Rohingya children, women and men detailed in UN human rights report on Myanmar


Myanmarflag.GENEVA (3 February 2017) – Mass gang-rape, killings – including of babies and young children, brutal beatings, disappearances and other serious human rights violations by Myanmar’s security forces in a sealed-off area north of Maungdaw in northern Rakhine State have been detailed in a new UN report issued Friday based on interviews with victims across the border in Bangladesh.

Of the 204 people individually interviewed by a team of UN human rights investigators, the vast majority reported witnessing killings, and almost half reported having a family member who was killed as well as family members who were missing. Of the 101 women interviewed, more than half reported having suffered rape or other forms of sexual violence. Read more...

Myanmar: UN rights expert condemns senseless killing of respected Muslim Lawyer Ko Ni


Myanmarflag.GENEVA (30 January 2017) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, today strongly condemned the brutal murder of Ko Ni, a prominent Muslim lawyer and constitutional law expert, who was also the legal adviser to the National League for Democracy (NLD). Ms. Lee called on the Government to openly condemn this act and to carry out a proper effective impartial investigation into the killing.

Mr. Ko Ni was shot and killed outside Yangon Airport on Sunday after returning from Indonesia where he had been part of a Government-led delegation attending an interfaith study tour. A suspect has been arrested. Read more...

Cambodia: UN experts call for the immediate release of five human rights defenders


Cambodiaflag.GENEVA (25 January 2017) – Two United Nations human rights experts today called on the Royal Government of Cambodia for the immediate release of five human rights defenders detained in May 2016 on charges relating to assistance lent to a woman who was allegedly pressured by the AntiCorruption Unit to lie about a false allegation. The charges were seen as politically motivated, and in November 2016, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention ruled their detention to be ‘arbitrary’.

“The use of criminal provisions as a pretext to suppress and prevent the legitimate exercise of the right to freedom of expression and to silence human rights defenders is incompatible with article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, (ICCPR), which has been signed by Cambodia,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia, Rhona Smith. Read more...

UN human rights expert concerned about reprisals during recent visit to Myanmar


Myanmarflag.GENEVA (24 January 2017) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, today warned about possible reprisals against people she met during her recent official visit to the country (9 to 21 January). “There is one word that has hung heavily on my mind during this visit – reprisals,” the expert said.

“I am deeply concerned about those with whom I met and spoke, those critical of the Government, those defending and advocating for the rights of others, and those who expressed their thoughts and opinions which did not conform to the narrative of those in the position of power,” she said, while noting the increasing use of section 66 (d) of the Telecommunications Law against many, “merely for speaking their minds.” Read more...

UN rights expert launches new official visit to assess recent developments in the country


Myanmarflag.GENEVA (6 January 2017) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, will undertake her fifth information-gathering visit to the country from 9 to 20 January.

Ms. Lee plans to visit Kachin State (Myitkyina, Hpakant and Laiza) as well as Rakhine State (Sittwe, Rathedaung, Buthidaung and Maungdaw), in addition to Nay Pyi Taw and Yangon in order to assess recent developments. Read more...

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