WEDNESDAY, 27 OCTOBER 2010
Prime Minister Hun Sen has ordered United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to remove the head of the local UN human rights office, accusing him of acting as a “spokesman” for opposition groups.
During a meeting with Ban at his offices in Phnom Penh this morning, Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said the premier had “proposed” that Christophe Peschoux, head of the local office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, resign his post.
“Regarding the issue of the UN Human Rights Office in Phnom Penh, Samdech [Hun Sen] proposed the removal of Mr Christophe Peschoux because Mr Peschoux is not a UN official working on human rights issues with the government, but as a spokesman for the opposition party,” he told reporters after the meeting.
“If Mr Peschoux is not removed,” Hor Namhong added, “then the UN Human Rights office in Phnom Penh will be closed.”
Peschoux previously came under fire from the government in July, when he criticised the government’s decision to deport two Thai anti-government Red Shirts.
At that time, the Foreign Ministry wrote to Peschoux to warn him that “any such activities in the future will lead the Royal Government of Cambodia to make a decision on your presence in Cambodia”.
When contacted today, Peschoux said he was not ready to comment on the situation. “For the time being, we have nothing to say. We are discussing it internally,” he said.
Phil Robertson, deputy director of the Asia division at Human Rights Watch, said Hun Sen’s order was part of a “move towards long-term authoritarian rule” in Cambodia.
“The UN Secretary General and the UN Country Team need to close ranks behind Christophe Peschoux and they need to defend him,” he said.