CaCaCambodia accuses "lazy" U.N. human rights workers of misrepresenting the country
By KER MUNTHIT
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) - A government minister on Friday branded U.N. human rights workers in Cambodia "lazy" and "clueless," accusing them of giving their supervisors inaccurate information about the Southeast Asian nation.
In the latest verbal assault on the world body, Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said the United Nations must reform its 13-year-old human rights office in Cambodia by bringing in "new blood" to do the job.
His comments came after the U.N. expressed concern about the recent vebal attack Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen made against Yash Ghai, Secretary-General Kofi Annan's special envoy.
Hun Sen called Ghai "totally deranged" and demanded that Annan sack him for saying that the Cambodian government is not committed to human rights.
In a statement Wednesday from Geneva, High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour said her Cambodian office has a mandate from "the international community to monitor respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and to cooperate with the government and civil society in order to ensure that the standards accepted by the government are observed."
She called on the government to continue full cooperation with the field office headed by Ghai, who is not based in Cambodia but visits every few months.
Ghai voiced his criticisms Tuesday at the end of a 10-day Cambodia trip.
Khieu Kanharith, who is also the government spokesman, blamed "extremely lazy" officials a the U.N. human rights office in Cambodia for giving Ghai an inaccurate picture of Cambodia.
"They spend their time drinking coffee, tea and alcohol with those who can speak English with them," he said. "They are absolutely clueless. The primary reform the U.N. must undertake is to replace all of them."
Cambodia's human rights situation suffered a severe setback last year when Hun Sen launched lawsuits against more than half a dozen critics, including an opposition leader, a journalist and human rights activists. The Cambodian leader dropped his actions earlier this year following strong condemnation at home and abroad.