Swedish ambassador to Cambodia highlights significance of human rights
Taing Vida Khmer Times January 9, 2020
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – Sweden’s Ambassador to Cambodia Bjorn Haggmark has highlighted the significance of human rights for Sweden and reiterated its concern over declining political and civic space in the Kingdom during a meeting with Keo Remy, head of the Cambodian Human Rights Committee.
In an e-mail to Khmer Times, Mr Haggmark underlined to Mr Remy the importance of respecting human rights in Sweden and around the world.
He said he also reiterated the concern that Sweden and the European Union have expressed concerning declining political and civic space in Cambodia.
“Sweden’s development cooperation with Cambodia has a human rights-based approach [HRBA], which means that all activities should contribute to the protection and promotion of human rights, which is closely interlinked to democracy and the rule of law,” Mr Haggmark said in the email.
“Key principles of the HRBA are non-discrimination, participation, transparency and accountability,” he added.
Mr Haggmark noted that in the discussion, the importance of systematic work for protection and promotion of human rights was brought up, and measures in Cambodia and Sweden in that respect were shared.
“I welcomed efforts in Cambodia to assist poor persons or persons in vulnerable situations with advice or legal assistance,” he said. “I also noted Cambodia’s progress in providing reports according to the requirements of different human rights conventions.”
Mr Haggmark added that the discussion also touched on developments regarding consultations with stakeholders, particularly civil society.
“I shared Swedish experiences and practices, where dialogue between the government and civil society is frequent, takes many forms and often reflects diverging positions. Such dialogue can, however, build trust and enable progress,” he said.
CHRC spokesman Chin Malin yesterday said Mr Remy informed Mr Haggmark about the recent progress that the committee has made, such as producing and defending international treaty reports to the UN, as well as the dissemination of human rights education and establishment of a volunteer legal team for legal advice.
Mr Malin said that the committee also looks forward to continued cooperation with international development partners and also welcomes cooperation from civil society organisations to advance the human rights sector.
“We will continue our dialogue on human rights between the Cambodian and Swedish governments,” he said. “We also asked him [Mr Haggmark] to help in making laws on the establishment of the national human rights institution in line with the Paris Principles and building capacity of our officials.”
Mr Malin said that during the meeting, Mr Haggmark hailed the committee’s efforts in disseminating innovative strategies that have ensured the respect of human rights in Cambodia.
According to the Swedish embassy, Sweden and Cambodia established diplomatic relations in 1961 and the country provided its first development cooperation support to Cambodia in 1979.
It said at present Swedish bilateral development cooperation with Cambodia focuses on human rights, democracy and the rule of law, education and employment as well as climate change and sustainable use of natural resources.
The European Commission is currently reviewing steps the government has taken to improve human rights and democracy in the Kingdom. It is doing so to decide whether the Kingdom should retain its Everything-but-arms trade status with the European Union.
The EBA status allows preferential access to the EU market. It has been under review by the EC since February. The EC said duty-free trade under the EBA may be suspended due to serious and systematic violations of labour and human rights.
From: KHMER TIMES (CAMBODIA) Thu, January 9, 2020