Pannasastra University of Cambodia
Topic: Religious Freedom in Cambodia in Current Time
Submitted to: Prof. Stan Starygin
Course: Human Right and World Politic
Prepared by: Korm Sovannarith
Dear Prof. Stan
Dear all classmates
How are you? I hope you all fine.
This below is my final paper on Religious Freedom in Cambodia in Current Time.
Take this opportunity I would like to thank you all for the best contribution in this term through Gmail system.
Cambodia, one particle of the world play as democratic state, is currently practicing constitutional monarchy, which has the King as the Head of State and Buddhism treat as the religion of the state.
So far, Cambodia country, yet, did not accept the Universal Declaration of the Human Right as the UN Charter stated all over the world. However, in 1992, Cambodia recognized the covenants and later on Cambodia’s Constitution made the Universal Declaration and the covenants as part of the Cambodian law and accept internationally on the human right such the right of freedom to religion as written in the constitutional law in article 43.
Freedom to religion is the part of human right; which is concerned seriously about the right to choose their own believe in religion to practice in their lives. This right is created and declared universally in the UDHR and ICCPR and other international convention. Accordingly to UDHR and ICCPR human right was produced to protect the right of people from being violated by the government institution or other. And these declaration on human right is to ensure that everyone will live peacefully, dignity, and without discrimination on religion but they will access their right to discuss their believe in public or private because of they have right of freedom to religion. However, in real situation do we believe that right of freedom to religion will practice without interfered or disturbed by the other or all those who believe in different religion will respect other?
II. UN Declaration On Human Right
1. UDHR Declaration
III. Cambodia Constitution
1. Right & Obligation of Khmer Citizens
1.1 Function of religious right
IV. Case Study (Religious Conflict, Cambodia)
Undeniably, the human right in the idea of the UN who proposed to create, is the great component which established to seek for equality, peace, justice, social welfare, and dignity and equity, and morality throughout globalization which is declared by the United Nation that all right intent to universal in each state freely. And we can say that the United Nation is the founder of human right. The United Nation plays a very important role in response to horrors of the Second World War by emerging human rights in the Organizations Charter. Indeed, at the San Francisco Conference, in which the Charter was adopted and there are 40 non-governmental organizations successfully lobbied delegates for relatively strong language on human rights. In this case, the United Nation does not play on human right alone to secure this but the UN interlinked and cooperates with other institutions and countries to spread and broadcast the declaration and mainstreaming human right all over the world.
II. UN Declaration On Human Rights
Foundationally, the idea of human rights was created after the end of World War II that proposed and sent to the United Nation by Eleanor Roosevelt (USA) Than the UN try to decorate this human right for internationally to maintain everyone would not be interfere by the war and other situation anymore.. And there are four principles that Roosevelt established after the World War II ended and those four principles are:
1. Freedom from Want
2. Freedom from Hunger
3. Freedom from War
4. Freedom from Fear
Accordingly to these four principles the UN had decorated the UDHR to reply to the human right as the result.
1. UDHR Declaration
Internationally, UDHR was drawn in binding as the international instrument created by the UN in order to proclaims for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a common standard of achievement for all people and all nations. No one will violate or infringe about human right, stated by UDHR article 18, but everyone has the right to freedom to religion, and expression, and right of thought. Back to the Freedom to religion UDHR clarify in the article 18 is that “Everyone has the rights to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change this religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and public or private...” In this article, it states very obvious about human rights by using the wording such “Has and Change” these two words intent to assert that everyone, generally, have the rights to have and to change one to another and they can quit the original religion that they see this religion is impossible to believe or this religion act very bad and could not encourage people to do thing right way so they have the legitimate right to change to another. And in this case, human rights in the UDHR prove and assert very exclusive on those rights without limitation of assuming rights. UDHR declared right of everyone to change their religion to another freely as stated in the second paragraph, Article 18, so the way to change their religion or belief without interfered or violated by the government institution or other institution. In additionally, the UN declare human right in the UDHR in purpose to protect the people from being violate from the government institution.
III. Cambodian Constitution
Fundamentally. Cambodian Constitution in the idea of the Khmer citizens consider as the supreme law of the state, which created to the serve the national society interest and to seek for peace, justice, social welfare, and respect human right, and to maintain social order in the country. As we already know Cambodian Constitution is binding by law so all Khmer citizens have the right and duties to respect and obey in order to make the country best.
1.Right and Obligation of Khmer Citizens
As this right and duties are very important to everyone and they conform as the basic rights and duties had written in Cambodian Constitution to guarantee Khmer citizens and legally protected from being violate and discrimination on right and duties the citizens are free and equal before law to use their right and have duty to respect other. So right and duties must be practicing together in order to ensure these two not overuse and feedback danger to society. In more detail about the right and duties please go through the Cambodian Constitution that right and duties of Khmer citizens are legally protected equally by the provision: Article 43 of the constitution: “Khmer citizens of either sex shall have the right to freedom of belief, freedom of religious belief and worship shall be guaranteed by the state on the condition that such freedom does not affect other religious belief or violate public order and security. Buddhism shall be the State religion.” And additionally, in more clarification of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights presents the rights of everyone with no limitation of right. Moreover, on the article 18 of UDHR say that, “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right include freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.” Refer to this universal declaration on human right we that there is no limitation and there is no condition to violate the right of everyone around the world. Basically, Cambodia treat Buddhism as the State religion, of course, this religion seem more powerful than the other but what is the Cambodian Constitution say about the right and duties in article 43. Specifically, even if Cambodia practice Buddhism but Cambodia cannot use its own power to violate or discriminate other religion but Cambodia must respect and provide equal right of freedom to religion. However, a little bit discuss about the situation in reality what is it apply to Cambodian society. As I can say it is not apply for all condition.
1.1 Function of Religious Belief
Khmer citizens are freely to have their own belief to choose their religious belief and worship without violate or interfered by the other or government institution. For more evident according to this right of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Right clarify very clear on human right about the right of freedom to religion in case the people wanted to adopt other religion or other belief of his choice. Much more than this, on the article 18 of the ICCPR provision say ”1. Everyone shall have the right of freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall have included freedom to have or adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others…” To this meaningful statement it asserts the condition that “Have or Adopt” It wanted to interpret if everyone who already have a religion, for example, and this man practiced or worship every his daily life but in case this man figure out that this religion made his life become worse and worse and develop nothing so he/she have the right to adopt other religion of his/her choice of religious belief by not infringe by other. In accordance to this, nowadays, there is usually happen in Cambodia on the adaptation of other religion to worship such Jesus Christ to instead Buddhism something like that. To this because this man, he/she, realize that Jesus Christ Religion will survive or seek right way for him/her to the heaven when this man pass away. Basically, this freedom to religion also includes the freedom of publishing which mean free to broadcast to publish religious belief through community, public, and private. However, back to the Cambodian Constitution article 43 written that, “… religious belief worship shall be guaranteed by the state on the condition that such freedom does not affect other religious belief or violate public order and security…” Actually, everyone can access their freedom to publishing or printing their religious belief in the public, community, and private but they have to respect the other religious belief it means that everyone can not share their own belief to violate or discriminate the other religious belief. For example, in order to advertise the Buddhism doctrine to other people to believe in Buddhism the Buddha’s disciple cannot detail to that people to judge other religion is not good it is wrong because Cambodian Constitution write to deny this activities seriously. So may some questions rise that what is the real function of religious right? Surely, I can proclaim based on Cambodian Constitution, that the real function of religious right is that everyone are freely to have right of freedom of belief, religious belief and worship and these shall be protected by the State on the condition that such freedom does not affect other religious beliefs or violate public order and security so if they can avoid these condition under the rule of law that’s it.
IV. Case Study (Religious Conflict, Cambodia)
Cambodian people are about 90% believes in Buddhism and this religion adopt as the State religion. On the article 43 in Cambodian Constitution display that “Khmer citizen of either sex shall have the right to freedom of belief. Freedom of religious belief…freedom does not affect other religious beliefs or violate public order and security. Buddhism shall be the State religions.” And article 18 of the ICCPR describes that, ”1.Everyone shall the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or adopt a religion or belief of his choice… 2.No one shall be subject to coercive would impair to freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice. 3. Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public, order, health or morals or… 4. The State Parties to the parents Covenant undertake to have respect for the liberty of parents and, when applicable, legal, guardians to ensure the religions and moral…” Based upon the Cambodian Constitution (Art 43) and ICCPR (Art18 (1, 2, 3, 4) I found that even though everyone have right and freedom to have or adopt a religion or belief there must be limited and they have to do thing under the rule of law. And the right of freedom to religion must be practiced by not affect or interfere the other religion. Anyway, one case happened between the conflict of religion, between Buddhism and Christian believer. One of my friend of mind, called Mr. Rethiya, reported me in the interview about the conflict with his uncle on religion case. Rethiya was borne in Kampong Chhnang Province and he and his parents believe in Jesus Christ. About year 2004, he decided to resident, in Phnom Penh, with his uncle in order to pursue his bachelor degree at RUPP University. When he lives with his uncle about 2 years he has never had the religious conflict with his uncle. Unfortunately, by the late 2007, the conflict was exploded this case happened while his uncle had a very bad dream on Mr. Rethiya that he will be in danger and cannot escape. This is what his uncle had a dream. In the early morning, his uncle had very worried about him so his uncle decided to call and ask him to blessing water at the pagoda. Please have a consideration as we know all Christian believers don not allow to blessing water as Buddhism practice. Rethiya aware about this obligation so he decided to reject and ask his uncle not blessing water but his uncle do not agree. Rethiya still stay in his position as Christian believer. Then his uncle get very angry until created this conflict become big issue. This argument pushed Rethiya’s uncle decided to disown him not to live him anymore because he thought that his nephew is very stubborn and did not respect or obey his speech. In this case I finalize that Rethiya’s uncle he may not know the right of freedom to religious belief and did not respect other belief as stated in the Cambodian Constitution (Art 43) [Reported by Mr. Rethiya on Monday 24 August, 2007]. Accordingly to this case I can say Cambodian citizens lack of constitutional law awareness that’s why the religious conflict happened.
As we know Cambodian State had signed on many treaties of convention and international human rights accordingly to the UN Charter. To this I would say Cambodian is the country in which strong development of human rights. However, after the end of my interview with my friend of mind it offered me negatively on human right of freedom to religion. Cambodian Constitution say clear in article 43 as well as the UDHR (Art.18) and ICCPR (Art. 18(1, 2, 3, 4) about the right of freedom to religion. Negatively, the result of my interview was shown me the religious belief in Cambodia practiced with discriminating from one to another. And may question will ask why Cambodian people still have the act of discrimination of religion belief either Cambodian Constitution say clearly about this right. And I finalize that Khmer citizens do not have mainstreamed the international human rights or the declaration of UDHR and ICCPR as well as Cambodian Constitution to their community so in the idea of Khmer citizens they are hard to recognize other religion as the story of Rethiya conflict between his uncle. Much more than this, Khmer citizens do not consider to the Cambodian Constitution on the article 43 and I personally think that he did not actually know or clear understanding about the Cambodian Constitution. Today, Cambodian society seem to very downward on practicing on the Constitution because Cambodian people are mostly do not mainly concern on the supreme law of the state, constitution, but they practice negatively. In short, as I can say Cambodian people are mostly not clear understandings about the Cambodian Constitution on the right of freedom to religion as stated in the stated in article 43.
Freedom to religion in Cambodia if we only have a short looking we may say there is full of right to practice the belief and religious belief without discrimination or violate. In fact, I analyze that even Cambodia have supreme law of the state and have signed many international law of human right and treaties convention Cambodia still carry out these adaptation very limited due to Khmer citizens are mostly do not familiar with that. Specifically, in the case of my friend of mind, Rethiya, he has his own belief and religious belief and I think in accordance to Jesus Christ when any disciple get in danger they will pray to their God to ask blessing so that they can escape this incident.
Moreover, I think Cambodian Constitution in practicing is still weak because the majority of the Khmer citizens do not have deep knowledge about the constitution or other international declaration on human right or other treaties as the Royal Government of Cambodia have signed. And the government itself does not respect his duty to mainstream the people to acknowledgement what the government have done with the UN Charter. On the other hand, Khmer citizens do not take responsibility on the rights and obligation of citizen as stated in Article 43. In short, I think Cambodian today is practicing constitution is still weak such freedom to religion people do not acknowledge but the feedback shown very limited after I did interview with Rethiya who had religious conflict with his uncle.
Freedom to religion is the part of human right; which is concerned seriously about to choose religious belief and belief. And Cambodia, in 1992, recognized the covenants and later on the Cambodian Constitution made the universal declaration and covenant as part of Cambodian law and accepts internationally on human right. Basically, Cambodian Constitution in the idea of Khmer citizens recognize as the supreme law of the state. Furthermore, Khmer citizens, refer to this supreme law, Khmer citizens are equal right of freedom to religion even have the duty to respect and ensure not to affect other religion and belief. Unfortunately, the Cambodian Constitution and other International Law of Human Right and other treaties convention did apply broader to the Khmer citizens. That’s why the religious conflict happened as a result. Hence, I assume that Cambodia practice the right of freedom to religion is not broader due to Cambodian Constitution, article 43, does not mainstream deeply to Khmer citizens sense even the UDHR and ICCPR and other international treaties convention.
3. Stan Starygin, Human Rights and World Politics, 2007
5. The Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia, 1993 and 2004
6. Interview Report, Mr. Rethiya, held on 24 August 2007, religious conflict
 Human Rights and United Nation, 1945 Human rights For All
 Human Rights and United Nation, 1946 UN Commission on Human rights
 Stan Starygin , Human Rights and World Politics, UDHR, Article 18, p 160
 The Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia: Article 43 “Right and Obligations of Khmer Citizens, 1993 and 2004
 Stan Starygin , Human Rights and World Politics, ICCPR, Article 18, p 166
 Interview Report, Mr. Rethiya, held on 24 August, 2007, religious conflict, Phone # 016 800 483
Thank you very much
Sunday, September 2, 2007
Pannasastra University of Cambodia