#cambodia : Human Rights Day : U.S. AMBASSADOR HEIDT’S STATEMENT

U.S. Embassy Phnom Penh, Cambodia
December 10, 2015

“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” – Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The United States stands with the people of #Cambodia and billions of others around the world in celebration of Human Rights Day. This year’s theme highlights four freedoms – freedom of speech, of religion, from want, and from fear – which underlie the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. While there has been significant progress in advancing these and other fundamental freedoms in Cambodia, more needs to be done in order to safeguard these liberties for all citizens.

When reflecting on the true meaning of freedom – particularly the freedom of speech – I recall a famous quote: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Freedom of expression is not only guaranteed under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; it is also a vital element of the Constitution of the Royal Kingdom of Cambodia. Therefore, I encourage all Cambodians – members of the Royal Government, civil society, and everyday citizens – to work together to ensure that the country’s laws, the media, and the Internet are devices utilized to protect the freedom of expression.

The United States is deeply committed to the protection of the basic freedoms enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As President Obama notes, “Protecting human rights around the globe extends the promise of democracy and bolsters the values that serve as a basis for peace in our world.” As U.S. Ambassador to the Royal Kingdom of Cambodia, I am proud to support the Cambodian people as the country continues to develop a strong and enduring democracy that fully promotes and protects human rights. The U.S. Embassy remains committed to our partnerships with all sectors of Cambodian society to promote freedom and democracy – not only on #HumanRightsDay, but every day.