COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION
OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES
UNDER ARTICLE 9 OF THE CONVENTION
of the Committee on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination
1. The Committee considered
the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh periodic reports
of Cambodia (CERD/C/292/Add.2), at its 1266th and 1267th meetings, held
on 16 and 17 March 1998, and adopted, at its 1273rd meeting, held on
20 March 1998, the following concluding observations.
2. The Committee welcomes
the submission by Cambodia of its report after a long period during
which the dialogue between the Committee and the State party had been
disrupted, as well as the presence of its delegation. The Committee
appreciates the opportunity to resume the dialogue with the State party.
The Committee notes that the report follows the guidelines established
by the Committee for the presentation of reports. The Committee regrets,
however, that the report lacks concrete information on the practical
implementation of the Convention, and that many questions remained unanswered.
The Committee welcomes the statement by the delegation that it will
transmit the questions of the Committee members to the State party.
B. Factors and difficulties impeding the implementation of the Convention
3. The Committee notes that Cambodia is facing many difficulties that
have an impact on the implementation of the Convention. In this regard,
the Committee refers in particular to more than 20 years of armed conflict;
the legacy of the genocide and other massive crimes perpetrated by the
Khmer Rouge regime; the subsequent invasion of the country by a neighbouring
State; the international isolation of Cambodia for many years; the insecurity
which still exists in certain areas of the country; the chronic political
instability including recent changes in Government; and the very difficult
economic and social situation. These circumstances have created obstacles
to the bringing to justice of the perpetrators of severe violations of
human rights which, in a number of cases, have an ethnic dimension.
C. Positive aspects
4. The establishment within
the National Assembly of a Commission on Human Rights and Receipt of
Complaints, whose task is to identify human rights violations, receive
complaints from victims and transmit them to the competent authorities
for appropriate action, is noted with appreciation.
5. The reported cooperation
with the Cambodian office of the Office of the High Commissioner for
Human Rights and with non-governmental organizations is also welcomed.
C. Principal subjects of concern
6. Concern is expressed
over the lack of independence of the judiciary, the absence of the Constitutional
Council called for by the Constitution, as well as the impunity of perpetrators
of human rights violations, violations which in some cases include summary
executions and torture. This contributes to the serious undermining
of efforts to establish the rule of law in Cambodia without which the
full implementation of the Convention is not possible.
7. While taking note of
article 61 of the Provisions relating to the Judiciary and Criminal
Law and Procedure applicable in Cambodia during the Transitional Period,
concern is expressed over the lack of legal provisions required in order
to implement fully the State party's obligations under article 4 of
the Convention, in particular article 4 (b) and (c).
8. Concern is also expressed
with regard to the insufficient legal framework to implement fully the
Convention, in particular article 2, paragraph 1 (d), and article 6.
9. While taking note of
the 1993 Constitution which contains many provisions relating to the
protection of human rights, the fact that those constitutional provisions
refer only to the rights of Khmer citizens raises concern with regard
to article 5 of the Convention. Such a reference contributes to the
ideology of ethnic purity of the Khmer which may lead to racial discrimination,
if not hatred, against minority groups, in particular the ethnic Vietnamese.
10. It is noted with concern
that the 1996 Law on Nationality, stating that Khmer nationals are those
one of whose parents is a Khmer national, makes it difficult for persons
belonging to minority groups, in particular ethnic Vietnamese and indigenous
people, to establish their citizenship.
11. The situation of the
ethnic Vietnamese is a matter of concern, in particular with regard
to article 5 of the Convention relating to equality of rights. Ethnic
Vietnamese are subject to racist propaganda, mainly from the Khmer Rouge,
which may incite hatred against them. The several massacres of ethnic
Vietnamese, most of them attributed to the Khmer Rouge, have not been
properly investigated. Alarm is also expressed over reports that the
exploitation through prostitution of females of Vietnamese origin, in
particular children, is growing. Concern is further expressed over reports
of racist attitudes among much of the Khmer population against the Cambodian-born
ethnic Vietnamese, who are still perceived as immigrants.
12. Concern is expressed
over the limited educational facilities in the villages of ethnic Vietnamese,
the lack of legislation authorizing the establishment of schools for
them and the obstacles to their children learning the Khmer language.
13. While noting the existence
of the Inter-Ministerial Committee and its draft National Policy on
Highland Peoples' Development, concern is expressed over the situation
of the indigenous peoples (also referred to as Highland Peoples, Khmer
Loeu or Hill Tribes Peoples), and to their lack of legal status, as
well as the insufficient legal framework to protect their rights, culture
and traditional lands. The rights of indigenous peoples have been disregarded
in many government decisions, in particular those relating to citizenship,
logging concessions and concessions for industrial plantations. The
lack of participation of the indigenous people in the management of
natural resources and in other activities of concern to them is also
a matter of concern.
D. Suggestions and recommendations
14. The Committee recommends
that the State party take all appropriate steps, including legal measures,
to ensure the independence of the judiciary and to establish the Constitutional
Council, with a view to bringing an end to the impunity of perpetrators
of racial discrimination. In this respect, the Committee emphasizes
the need to investigate, prosecute and punish those found guilty of
such crimes, and to establish confidence in the rule of law.
15. The Committee recommends
that the laws be amended to more fully reflect the provisions of the
Convention. Such a reform would constitute a clear reaffirmation by
the Cambodian authorities that racial discrimination is unacceptable.
In particular, the Committee is also of the view that the Law on Nationality
should be revised.
16. The Committee recommends
that the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Penal Code be enacted as
soon as possible and should reflect the provisions of the Convention.
The Committee suggests that the State party may wish to avail itself
of the technical assistance programme of the Office of the High Commissioner
for Human Rights.
17. The Committee reaffirms
that the provisions of article 4 of the Convention are mandatory, as
stated in its General Recommendation VII. The Committee stresses in
this regard that the State party should take appropriate steps to fulfil
all its obligations under this article and that, in doing so, it take
fully into account General Recommendation XV.
18. The Committee recommends
that action be taken at the legislative, administrative and judicial
levels to protect the right of everyone, including ethnic Vietnamese,
to enjoy their rights under article 5 of the Convention, especially
the right to security of person and protection by the State against
violence or bodily harm; to public health and medical care and to education
and training. It further recommends that comprehensive information on
the implementation of the articles be provided in the next report.
19. The Committee recommends
that the State party recognize the citizenship of the indigenous peoples,
as well as their use of lands, forests and other natural resources,
and their distinct and unique identity, culture and way of life. The
Committee further recommends that the State party take steps to fully
implement its General Recommendation XXIII which addresses the rights
of indigenous peoples under the Convention. In particular, the State
party should ensure that no decisions directly relating to the rights
and interests of indigenous peoples are taken without their informed
20. The Committee recommends
that the State party ensure protection against any acts of racial discrimination
through the competent courts, in accordance with article 6 of the Convention,
by, inter alia, strengthening the court system, the independence
of the judiciary and the confidence of the population therein. It further
recommends that the right to seek just and adequate reparation for victims
of racial discrimination be guaranteed in law and practice.
21. In connection with the
implementation of article 7 of the Convention, the Committee recommends
that all necessary measures be taken to provide training and education
of law enforcement officers, civil servants, judges and lawyers, as
well as teachers and students, at all levels of education, and the public
at large, in the field of human rights and prevention of racial discrimination.
22. The Committee recommends
that the State party take account, in preparing its next report, of
these conclusions and recommendations.
23. The Committee recommends
that the State party ratify the amendments to article 8, paragraph 6,
of the Convention, adopted on 15 January 1992 at the Fourteenth Meeting
of States Parties to the Convention.
24. It is noted that the
State party has not made the declaration provided for in article 14
of the Convention, and some members of the Committee request that the
possibility of such a declaration be considered.
25. The Committee invites
the State party to submit its next report, due on 28 December 1998,
in time for the fifty-fourth session of the Committee, and suggests
that it be a comprehensive report. It should provide replies to the
questions raised during the consideration of the previous report and
address all the points raised in the present concluding observations.