•The claim: David Manne says independent evidence clearly shows that Cambodia is engulfed in a human rights crisis.
•The verdict: Evidence shows Cambodia is suffering from the fallout of a flawed election and violent protests that followed. Opposition MPs are refusing to accept the result of the election and there are real concerns about violence perpetrated by armed forces largely controlled by the ruling political party.
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed Australia is working on an agreement with Cambodia that would see refugees currently on Nauru resettled there.
"The response we have had from Cambodia I think has been very, very positive... The arrangement would enable persons to be resettled from Nauru into Cambodia. That is what it would do," he said on May 23.
Mr Morrison says at least 13 asylum seekers, transferred to Nauru from Australia after the former government's offshore processing arrangements came into place, have so far been found to be refugees.
In recent weeks he has defended criticism about resettling Australian refugees in poor countries, saying "it is about freedom from persecution" and "resettlement is not a ticket to a first-class economy".
But Human rights lawyer David Manne, who launched a successful High Court challenge to the former government's proposal to resettle refugees in Malaysia, argues Cambodia is in no position to resettle Australian refugees.
"And it's a country that independent evidence clearly shows is engulfed in a human rights crisis of its own at the moment, of brutal repression," he told RN Breakfast on April 30.
ABC Fact Check examines the evidence.
The 2013 elections turn violent
According to Human Rights Watch's World Report 2014, Cambodia has been "engulfed in a human rights crisis" since national assembly elections on July 28 last year.
The report details events around the election, saying when the Cambodian People's Party (CPP) was returned to power there were large scale demonstrations over "electoral irregularities".
Human Rights Watch says the CPP controls all election management bodies, and voter registration was marred by fraud.
According to the report, security forces repeatedly used excessive force to suppress post-election protests and "unrest", resulting in two deaths and many injuries.
The US State Department's Cambodia 2013 Human Rights Report takes a similar view of a "flawed and poorly managed electoral process" in the 2013 elections. It says: "Authorities maintained effective control over the security forces. Security forces committed human rights abuses."
It says on September 15 there were press reports that an individual was shot during a clash between security forces and civilians at a road block while the Opposition party - the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) - was conducting a protest.
In the following months there were a number of vigils and demonstrations which became violent, resulting in the deaths and wounding of striking workers and protestors, according to the reports.
The ruling CPP has held power - either in coalition or alone - since 1979, and the returned prime minister Hun Sen has been in his job for 29 years.
Impunity, or exemption from punishment for serious crimes, is another human rights abuse in Cambodia.
The Human Rights Watch report says "no serious investigations were carried out into the killing and injury of protesters and bystanders during post-election protests and unrest in September and November 2013".
It also says "forces under Hun Sen and the CPP have committed frequent and large-scale abuses, including extrajudicial killings and torture, with impunity".
Amnesty and the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights, located in Cambodia, also raise impunity as a concern.
"Impunity for perpetrators of human rights abuses and lack of an independent judiciary remained serious problems," Amnesty's 2012 Annual Report said.
As of June, NGOs reported that authorities abused at least 30 prisoners - 29 while in police custody and one in prison. Kicking, punching and pistol whipping were the most common methods of reported physical abuse, but electric shock, suffocation, caning and whipping with wires were also used.
US State Department
The US State Department report says a politicised and ineffective judiciary is one of the country's key human rights abuses. It reports the government generally does not respect judicial independence, and that there has been widespread corruption among judges, prosecutors and court officials.
Abuse of prison detainees
The State Department report says abuse of prison detainees is another leading human rights problem in Cambodia. It notes there are credible reports that military and civilian police officials abused and on occasion severely beat criminal detainees, particularly during interrogation.
"As of June, NGOs reported that authorities abused at least 30 prisoners - 29 while in police custody and one in prison. Kicking, punching and pistol whipping were the most common methods of reported physical abuse, but electric shock, suffocation, caning and whipping with wires were also used," the report said.
The US State Department report also raises concerns about the constraints on freedom of the press, saying the ruling party "controlled or strongly influenced" most of the 12 domestic television stations and nearly 100 radio stations in Cambodia. A few were independent or aligned with other parties.
On May 3, the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights said: "Cambodian and foreign journalists were hit and threatened by security guards, including a Voice of Democracy reporter who was hospitalised after having been severely beaten by at least 10 security guards, and cameras and other equipment were destroyed and confiscated."
"This is occurring in a context of constant restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression and assembly in the Kingdom of Cambodia since the beginning of 2014," the centre said.
United Nations Special Rapporteur
The United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Cambodia, Surya P. Subedi, has raised concerns about the aftermath of the election.
On April 7, 2014, he said opposition MPs were not taking up their seats in the national assembly.
Professor Subedi works at the international law school at the University of Leeds in England, and as a Special Rapporteur is independent from any government or organisation and serves in his individual capacity.
"I have been following closely the situation in Cambodia where restrictions on human rights and fundamental freedoms continue, as a direct consequence of the unresolved political situation arising from the 2013 general election, the results of which continue to be contested," he said.
Professor Subedi wants the parliament to pass new laws which may improve the human rights situation in Cambodia, however without opposition party MPs sitting in parliament he has concerns about the process being undemocratic.
The US State Department report also says the opposition CNRP refused to sit in the national assembly until there was an investigation into election irregularities - and several other demands.
Australian government warnings
Earlier this year the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs asked travellers to exercise a high degree of caution when visiting Phnom Penh, Cambodia's capital. The warning has since been downgraded.
The departmental website still says: "Violent clashes between security forces and demonstrators are known to occur. In January 2014, five protesters were killed in Phnom Penh's Pur Senchey District. Cambodian authorities have prohibited all public gatherings in and around Freedom Park, Phnom Penh."
According to independent evidence, Cambodia is still suffering from the fallout of a flawed election and the violent protests that followed. Opposition MPs are still refusing to accept the result of the election and there are real concerns about violence perpetrated by armed forces largely controlled by the ruling political party.
Mr Manne's claim checks out.
- Australian Broadcasting Corporation
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