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Cambodia, COVID-19 and UN human rights experts

Thomas Fowler KHMER TIMES Thu, May 14, 2021

A checkpoint during lockdown in Phnom Penh. Businesses are being advised to have a contingency plan in place for any future crises. KT/Chor Sokunthea

PHNOM PENH – Until February 20, 2021, Cambodian authorities had succeeded in achieving a great goal : fully controlling the COVID-19 pandemic.

From February 2020 to February 2021, the country had only 454 cases and no deaths.

The government of Cambodia had anticipated the actions to be implemented. Not only has it initiated public awareness campaigns, but it also closed some establishments and ordered other measures.

On the contrary,  it is not the real danger of irresponsible individual behaviors that four so-called UN “experts” point out in an unbearably hostile statement.

Led of course by Mrs Rhona Smith, famous in Cambodia for having reduced the crimes against humanity and the genocide perpetrated by the Pol Pot regime to simple “troubles of the past century”, an expert on the right to freedom of assembly, an expert on the right to privacy and, finally, an expert on the right to enjoy the best state of physical and mental health, who had violently criticised the “law on preventive measures against the spread of Covid-19 and other serious and contagious diseases ”, promulgated on March 11 following the explosion of the pandemic as the result of the irresponsibility of foreign individuals.

Once again, Cambodia is doomed for taking legislative measures identical to those of other countries which, of course, are never criticised.

Once again, the Prime Minister is criticised for the use he might make of the penalties provided for non-compliance with these measures. The dissuasive nature of these measures is not for a single moment taken into account by these “experts” who are least concerned of the health of Cambodians.

In view of the Khmer New Year period, the government had taken strict measures to limit travel and assembly and urged residents to stay  home, while continuing the vaccination campaign.

Who could blame  Prime Minister Hun Sen, when tradition has it that these days always see  millions of people on the move? Who? UN “experts”, indeed.

No doubt that freedom of movement and freedom of assembly are more important in this Western vision that puts individual rights above collective duties.

With  total ignorance of all the tremendous financial efforts made by the government to come to the aid of those affected by the crisis, these “experts” allow themselves to give advice on what the government should do.

But they ignore – or no doubt, they pretend to ignore –  what it has already accomplished well, more than in other countries at a comparable level of development.

The well-being of the Cambodian people does not need such “experts” who distract the authorities from their relentless efforts to regain health control of a situation which the abuse of freedoms of movement and assembly has completely degraded. Such experts encourage the most irresponsible to disregard the collective duties that are imposed in the face of the pandemic.

They impose a Western dogmatic vision of freedom that led to the results we are witnessing: 581,000 deaths in USA; 566.000 in EU (27) on May 12. A vision of rich countries that, at the end of the day, have always enough doses of vaccines.

Cambodians remember that, from 1979 to 1991, the UN deprived the survivors of the Pol Pot regime of the right to food, health, education, culture, work, housing, development. How could they give any credit to such human rights “experts”?

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