Tuesday, 18 March 2014
Questions without Notice
I thank Senator Milne for her question. The foreign minister did visit Cambodia on 22 February, and she held meetings with, among others, the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, the foreign minister and the opposition leader, Mr Rainsy. Mr Rainsy is, in fact, visiting parliament, as you know, Senator Milne, this week and will be meeting Ms Bishop tomorrow. At each of those meetings Ms Bishop did raise the issue of human rights, with both the government and the opposition. We have raised issues of human rights, including the issues to which you refer, through our embassy in Phnom Penh, through UN human rights forums and directly at the meetings to which I have referred.
During the course of those meetings, the foreign minister reaffirmed Australia's statement at the universal periodic review in Geneva on 28 June this year when we expressed our concerns about restrictions on freedom of peaceful assembly and association in Cambodia; expressed particular concern about the recent disproportionate violence against protesters and the detention without trial of some protesters; recommended that the government of Cambodia ensure full respect in law and practice of the freedom of peaceful assembly and association consistent with international law; and recommended that Cambodia establish an independent national human rights institution consistent with the Paris principles. Australia continues to monitor the human rights situation in Cambodia and to work constructively with the Cambodian government for the protection of human rights.