Holding Cambodia Accountable for Its Descent into One-Party Rule

Op-Ed: Cambodia Leadership Skills

Next Steps for Accountability

Given these new developments, the U.S. should take concerted action to hold Hun Sen and other cronies in the Cambodian government to account. The U.S. and Asia Heritage Foundationother key actors in the international community, including the European Union, signaled their disapproval of the dissolution of the opposition and deteriorating conditions in the country. These actions may have been too little too late. A more robust response should have been carried out five years ago after flawed 2013 elections revealed a state of deteriorating democracy in Cambodia.22 The U.S. should take further steps to hold the Cambodian government accountable:

  • Name and sanction Hun Sen and other party cadres for the role they play in undermining democracy in Cambodia. The U.S. Treasury Department should use all available tools in its toolbox to freeze and seize assets of known individuals actively obstructing freedom in Cambodia. It should expand its use of existing Global Magnitsky authorities and use any other relevant authorities to place individuals on the SDN list. Such an action would send a clear signal to Hun Sen that the U.S. will intervene in necessary ways to get Cambodia back on the path toward democratic reform.
  • Expand existing visa restrictions on Cambodian officials undermining democracy. The U.S. State Department should follow through on promises made in its condemnation of the July 2018 election to expand existing visa restrictions on Cambodian government officials. One potential way to expand these authorities would be to extend visa restrictions unequivocally to family members, especially to Hun Sen’s direct family members. (Current visa restrictions only apply to family members on a case-by-case basis.)23
  • Create and convene an emergency meeting of the Cambodia Contact Group comprised of parties to the 1991 Paris Peace Agreement, including the United States, Japan, Indonesia, Australia, the U.K., and France, to monitor and press for democratic reform. Among the purposes of the Paris agreement was to ensure “the right to self-determination of the Cambodian people through free and fair elections” and “assuring protection of human rights.”24 The signatories have a continuing moral obligation in this regard. The contact group should be used to coordinate human rights policies and assistance programs toward Cambodia. In short order, leaders from all of the countries at the foreign-minister level should convene to draw up coordinated plans to hold the Cambodian government accountable and get Cambodia back on the path toward reform.
  • Condition assistance to Cambodia on the health of democracy. The U.S. should adopt stringent metrics for determining whether Cambodia is eligible for key assistance programs. Such language could mirror proposed conditions in the 2019 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations bill.25 Language in the Senate version of the appropriations bill is particularly strong and specific. The U.S. government should conduct a thorough review of all assistance to Cambodia and consider instituting more severe restrictions on aid. Emphasis should be placed on holding the Cambodian government accountable without harming the people themselves.
  • Continue to press for the release of Kem Sokha. Every U.S. government statement issued in response to deteriorating conditions in Cambodia should continue to reference Kem Sokha’s imprisonment and request that the Cambodian government release him immediately. The U.S. government should also make clear that there will be additional consequences if Kem Sokha continues to be held. Without a swift, coordinated plan democracy may never be restored in Cambodia. The U.S. and the international community should learn from the mistakes of its limited response after the 2013 election and respond to the 2018 elections in an offensive, rather than defensive, manner. The U.S. should plan for conditions to continue to deteriorate and put in place mechanisms that ensure Hun Sen and his CPP cronies are held to account

Read more details at Asia Foundation…

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As Singapore dredges sand out from beneath Cambodia’s mangrove forests, an ecosystem, a communal way of life, and one woman’s relationship to her beloved home are faced with the threat of erasure.

I remember my first trip to the mangrove forests near the island of Koh Sralau and along Cambodia’s coastline. I had no idea how extensive the mangrove forests were or how spectacular they would be. The forests stretched for miles and miles, carving out small islands, narrow waterways and channels, and ecologically diverse estuaries. I wanted to document the impact of sand dredging on the mangroves and on the lives of the people who live and thrive in these forests and the oceans surrounding them.

For over a decade, the government of Cambodia has granted several private companies concessions to mine these mangrove forests for sand. Each year, millions of metric tons of sand are shipped to Singapore to enlarge this island nation’s land mass, while Cambodia destroys its only natural protection against erosion, rising sea levels, tsunamis, and hurricanes and lays waste to a vital and fragile ecosystem that thousands of families depend on for their livelihood.

Read more details at Emergence Magazine…

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In late July, Cambodia participated (sort of) in the General Election, without having the option to choose the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), which had been dissolved by the Supreme Court last November. The landslide victory by the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) all but assures Prime Minister Hun Sen of near total control of the country. For poll watchers, observers of democracy and human rights activists, the post-mortem reflection on Cambodia’s decline will be painful. But for how long? This brief analysis offers three likely developments in Cambodia that offer both a glimpse of optimism and words of warning.

No. 1: Any imposed sanctions on Cambodia will fail: When the CPP clamped down on political freedoms, Western governments reacted strongly, yet predictably. Economic sanctions were at the top of the list of suggested responses. The United States called forsanctions for Cambodia in January after the arrest of CNRP leader Kem Sokha. Recently, the U.S. and the European Union have called for sanctions on high-ranking officials and more, including thoughts of stripping Cambodia of tax-free access to Western textile markets. If implemented, the loss of revenue could top $650 million. While that wouldcause few reservations for the CPP and Prime Minister Hun Sen, the impact would be felt by up to a million poor Cambodians who work in the textile and garment industries. Sanctions would almost certainly jeopardize efforts to boost national economic standing. The World Bank graduated Cambodia from LDC to lower-middle-income status in 2016and the United Nations has been supporting the country in efforts to move to upper-middle income status by 2030. Threats of sanctions reflect myopic foreign policies that fail to grasp the larger economic and political landscape. While Cambodia will not be able to find alternative Chinese markets for their goods, they will find political solace from Beijing and a new source of legitimate criticism in which to rest short-term political futures. The Americans should learn from the past. The U.S. imposed a trade embargo on Cambodia after the Khmer Rouge gained to power in 1975 and kept them through 1992. Cambodia relied then on China and communist states for their economic survival and it will soon again. Economic sanctions simply don’t work. They rarely have.

No. 2: Cambodia’s civil society will re-emerge: Creeping authoritarianism in the months before the July 2018 election subjected Cambodian civil society groups working in Cambodia to repressive restrictions. Recently, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) found that the judiciary has been used by the government to tighten controls on civil society groups that the regime saw as a threat, including the closure of some independent media organizations, violent responses to demonstrations, and arbitrary detention and arrest of human rights and political activists. The government passed the Law on Associations and NGOs in 2015, which provided a legal means for threatening civil society groups. However, the cost of repression is often high and civil society often quickly learns to adapt to acts of state violence. One need only look at Cambodia’s neighbor to the west as an example. Thailand imposed a number of repressive laws in the aftermath of the 2014 coup d’etat. Groups of five people were banned from gathering in public, political activists were arrested, and thousands were forced into re-education camps. But, five years after the coup, civil society is showing signs of re-emergence. Unless Hun Sen is willing to use much more repressive means to curtail civil society activities, it is highly likely that CPP dominance will face the same legitimacy challenges Prayut and the NCPO face today. Discounting the power of civil society in Cambodia is to not properly remember its history. Cambodians who faced human rights challenges during the Khmer Rouge eramobilized society and formed the basis for a robust human rights movement–even before the arrival of UNTAC. While it may not emerge in the short-term, it will inevitably happen.

Continue reading Holding Cambodia Accountable for Its Descent into One-Party Rule

សេចក្តីថ្លែងការណ៍អំពីការបោះឆ្នោតនៅកម្ពុជា

Statement of Cambodia Election 29 July 2018-page-001គណៈកម្មាធិការដើម្បីសិទ្ធិបោះឆ្នោតរបស់ពលរដ្ឋខ្មែរនៅក្រៅប្រទេសសូមថ្កោលទោសជាឱឡារិកដល់ការបោះឆ្នោតនៅថ្ងៃទី២៩ ខែកក្កដា ឆ្នាំ២០១៨ ដែលប្រព្រឹត្តឡើងប្រកបដោយភាពលំអៀង មិនសុក្រិត្តយុត្តិធម៌ និងជាការបោកបញ្ឆោតសំលេងម្ចាស់ឆ្នោតប្រជាពលរដ្ឋខ្មែរ១៦លាននាក់។

គណៈកម្មការជាតិដើម្បីការបោះឆ្នោតឬហៅកាត់គជបជាអង្គភាពបង្គ្រប់កិច្ចអោយរដ្ឋាភិបាលដើម្បីបោកបញ្ឆោតប្រជាពលរដ្ឋខ្មែរ។ គជបមានមនុស្សធ្វើការមកពីគណបក្សប្រជាជនកម្ពុជា ហើយគណបក្សប្រជាជនកម្ពុជាបានរំកិលខ្លួនខ្ពស់ជាងស្ថាប័នជាតិសំខាន់ៗ។ ក្រោមការដឹកនាំរបស់លោកនាយករដ្ឋមន្ត្រីហ៊ុន-សែន ការអភិវឌ្ឍន៍សេដ្ឋកិច្ចនិងការកសាងហេដ្ឋារចនាសម្ព័ន្ធគឺគ្រាន់តែជាការលំអររូបភាពខាងក្រៅតែប៉ុណ្ណោះ ពីព្រោះក្នុងរយៈពេលជាង២២ឆ្នាំនេះ លោកហ៊ុន-សែននិងក្រុមរបស់គាត់បានបំលែងប្តូរនូវស្ថាប័នជាតិដោយជំនួសវិញគឺក្រុមស្វាមីភក្តិរបស់គាត់និងគណបក្សប្រជាជនកម្ពុជា។

យើងខ្ញុំសូមអំពាវនាវអោយប្រជាពលរដ្ឋខ្មែរនៅក្រៅប្រទេសទាំងអស់ត្រូវឈរប្រកៀកស្មារជាមួយបងប្អូនប្រជាពលរដ្ឋខ្មែរនៅក្នុងប្រទេសក្នុងការជំរុញអោយស្តារលទ្ធិប្រជាធិបតេយ្យឡើងវិញ មានការបោះឆ្នោតឡើងវិញដែលអាចឆ្លុះបញ្ចាំងឆន្ទៈប្រជាពលរដ្ឋពិតប្រាកដក្នុងការជ្រើសរើសតំណាងរបស់ខ្លួន។ សហគមន៍អន្តរជាតិជាពិសេសប្រទេសប្រកាន់របបប្រជាធិបតេយ្យត្រូវអនុវត្តន៍ជាក់ស្តែងជាជាងគ្រាន់តែសំដែងចំណាប់អារម្មណ៍និងសេចក្តីថ្លែងការណ៍មិនទទួលស្គាល់ការបោះឆ្នោតនេះ។ ជាមេរៀន សូមអោយក្រុមអ្នកប្រជាធិបតេយ្យនិងសហគមន៍អន្តរជាតិធ្វើការផ្លាស់ប្តូរទិសពីការពង្រឹងសមត្ថភាពប្រជាពលរដ្ឋម្នាក់ៗមកជាការពង្រឹងស្ថាប័នជាតិវិញ ព្រោះក្នុងរយៈពេល២៧ឆ្នាំនេះ ប្រជាពលរដ្ឋខ្មែរម្នាក់ៗបានយល់សុីជម្រៅនូវខ្លឹមសារលទ្ធិប្រជាធិបតេយ្យបានមួយចំនួនធំហើយ តែពួកគេនៅជាជនរងគ្រោះពីគណបក្សកាន់អំណាចដែលគ្របសង្កត់ទាំងស្រុងទៅលើស្ថាប័នជាតិ។

Committee for Election Rights of Overseas Cambodians (The CEROC) solemnly condemns the national election conducted in July 29, 2018 which has been in bias, unfair, and manipulating the 16 millions of Cambodian population.

National Election Committee (NEC) is the biased body commissioned to manipulate the Cambodian people. NEC has employed staffs majorly from ruling party (CPP), and CPP has embodied themselves higher than key national institutions. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Hun Sen, economic development and infrastructure are just a decoration of outside look because during his mandate of over 22 years, Prime Minister Hun Sen and his entourages have exchanged national institutions to replacing with his loyalists and CPP party.

We would like to appeal all Cambodians overseas to firmly shoulder with Cambodian people inside the country to demand the returning back of democracy in Cambodia, to conduct a new election that could reflect the will of the people in choosing their representatives. International communities particularly those democratic countries must take action rather than just expressing concerns and making statement of election condemnation. As lessons learnt, all democrats and international communities should make change of their direction from individual citizens’ capacity building to strengthening national institutions because during this period of 27 years, individual Cambodian has deepened knowledge of democracy principles but they have been remained victim of CPP that has evolved themselves to control major national institutions.

អានសេចក្តីថ្លែងការណ៍ទាំងស្រុង Read complete statement in pdf

កិច្ចព្រមព្រៀងសន្តិភាពទីក្រុងប៉ារីសនិងការស្លាប់នៃលទ្ធិប្រជាធិបតេយ្យអាណត្តិទី៦នេះ

កិច្ចព្រមព្រៀងសន្តិភាពទីក្រុងប៉ារីសនិងការស្លាប់នៃលទ្ធិប្រជាធិបតេយ្យអាណត្តិទី៦នេះ

Mr. Kemsrean Kheng, The CEROC's Representative for State of Minnesota, USA

Mr. Kemsrean Kheng, The CEROC’s Representative for State of Minnesota, USA

ខ្ញុំបាទខេង គិមស្រ៊ាន ថ្ងៃនេះមានកិត្តិយសតាងនាមអោយគណៈកម្មការដើម្បីសិទ្ធិបោះឆ្នោតរបស់ពលរដ្ឋខ្មែរនៅក្រៅប្រទេសឬដែលហៅកាត់ថាដឺស៊ីរ៉ក់ក៏ដូចជាលោកសេង សុភ័ណដែលជាប្រធាន មកជាវាគ្មិនក្នុងមហាសន្និបាតខ្មែរពិភពលោកលើកទីពីរនៅរដ្ឋមិននីសូតានេះ។

បងប្អូនជនរួមជាតិជាទីគោរពរាប់អាន ពិភពលោកបានចេញចាកផុតពីយុគសង្រ្គាមត្រជាក់ឈានចូលយុគបច្ចុប្បន្ន ហើយកម្ពុជាដ៏អភ័ព មួយនេះបានស្គាល់ពន្លឺប្រជាធិបតេយ្យខ្លះក្រោមការជ្រោមជ្រែងរបស់អង្គការសហប្រជាជាតិអោយមានការបោះឆ្នោតនៅឆ្នាំ១៩៩៣ទៅតាមកិច្ចសន្យា នៃកិច្ចព្រមព្រៀងសន្តិភាពទីក្រុងប៉ារីស២៣ តុលា ១៩៩១។ កាលនោះ ប្រជាពលរដ្ឋខ្មែរនៅក្រៅប្រទេសបានមានសិទ្ធិចូលរួមបោះឆ្នោតយ៉ាងពេញ លេញ តែក្រោយៗមកក្រោមការដឹកនាំនៃគណៈកម្មការជាតិរៀបចំការបោះឆ្នោតឬគជប ប្រជាពលរដ្ឋខ្មែរនៅក្រៅប្រទេសមិនត្រូវបានគេផ្តល់សិទ្ធិ អោយចូលរួមបោះឆ្នោតឡើយ។ ចាប់កំណើតកាលពីឆ្នាំ២០១៤ ស៊ីរ៉ក់បានធ្វើកិច្ចការជាច្រើនក្នុងការធ្វើយុទ្ធនាការប្រមូលញត្តិពីបងប្អូនយើងនៅក្រៅ ប្រទេសទាំងអស់ ក្នុងនោះក៏មានបងប្អូនយើងជាច្រើននៅរដ្ឋមីននីសូតាបានចូលរួមចុះហត្ថលេខា ហើយយើងខ្ញុំសូមថ្លែងអំណរគុណយ៉ាងជ្រាល ជ្រៅនៅទីនេះ, យើងបានជួបពិភាក្សាជាមួយគជបថ្មីមានលោកគួយ ប៊ុនរឿន លោករ៉ុង ឈុនជាដើម ហើយយើងបានសរសេរលិខិតទៅកាន់ប្រធានក្រុម តំណាងរាស្ត្រគណបក្សសំលេងភាគតិចគឺលោកស៊ុន-ឆ័យនៃគណបក្សសង្គ្រោះជាតិ។ ពង្រាងច្បាប់មួយបានកើតឡើងដាក់ចូលសភាដើម្បីធ្វើវិសោធ នកម្មតូចមួយដែលអាចអោយពលរដ្ឋខ្មែរនៅក្រៅប្រទេសអាចមានសិទ្ធិបោះឆ្នោតបាន។ តែជាអកុសល ក្រោមការដឹកនាំរបស់លោកហ៊ុន-សែន មិនមែនតែពលរដ្ឋខ្មែរនៅក្រៅប្រទេសទេដែលត្រូវបានគេផាត់ចោលនិងព្រងើយកន្តើយ ពលរដ្ឋខ្មែរនៅក្នុងប្រទេសក៏ត្រូវបានគេលាបព៌ណនិងធ្វើទុក្ខបុកម្នេញគ្រប់បែបយ៉ាងដោយគ្រាន់តែពួកគេមាននិន្នការគាំទ្រគណបក្សជំទាស់ឬនិន្នាការកណ្តាលដូចជាក្រុមសង្គមស៊ីវិល។

មកដល់ថ្ងៃនេះគឺ២៧ឆ្នាំហើយក្រោយកិច្ចព្រមព្រៀងសន្តិភាពទីក្រុងប៉ារីស ដែលប្រទេសកម្ពុជាក្រោមការដឹកនាំរបស់លោកហ៊ុន-សែន បានបំផ្លាញចោលលទ្ធិប្រជាធិបតេយ្យសេរីពហុបក្សចោលដោយសារតែមើលឃើញថាគណបក្សជំទាស់គឺគណបក្សសង្គ្រោះជាតិអាចមានប្រជាពល- រដ្ឋគាំទ្រច្រើនជាងខ្លួនបើទុកអោយមានការប្រកួតប្រជែងការបោះឆ្នោតមួយដោយសុក្រឹតត្រឹមត្រូវនិងយុត្តិធម៌។ ការបោះឆ្នោតថ្ងៃ២៩ កក្កដា ២០១៨ គឺជាឆាកល្ងោនប្រជាភិថុតបោកប្រាស់ប្រជាពលរដ្ឋខ្មែរថាមានពហុបក្សតែប៉ុណ្ណោះ។ តែតាមការពិតប្រជាពលរដ្ឋខ្មែរនិងសហគមន៍អន្តរជាតិមិនអាច ទទួលយកបាននូវរបបដឹកនាំបែបឯកបក្សនិងផ្តាច់ការនេះបានទេ។ ក្រោមការជួយជ្រោមជ្រែងពីសហគមន៍អន្តរជាតិជាពិសេសប្រទេសហត្ថលេខីនៃ កិច្ចព្រមព្រៀងសន្តិភាពទីក្រុងប៉ារីស ប្រជាពលរដ្ឋខ្មែរទាំងក្នុងប្រទេសនិងក្រៅប្រទេសប្តេជ្ញាប្តូរប្តាច់អោយមានការបោះឆ្នោតឡើងវិញ មានការចូល រួមពីគណបក្សសង្គ្រោះជាតិ មានការដោះលែងលោកកឹម-សុខានិងអ្នកទោសនយោបាយទាំងអស់ ទុកជាមោឃៈនូវច្បាប់ទាំងឡាយណាដែលផ្ទុយ ពីរដ្ឋធម្មនុញ្ញ និងអនុវត្តន៍ជាក់ស្តែងតាមរដ្ឋធម្មនុញ្ញដើម្បីអោយតុលាការឯករាជ្យ ពង្រឹងសមត្ថភាពស្ថាប័នព្រះមហាក្សត្រ មន្ត្រីរាជការទាំង ស៊ីវិលនិងកងប្រដាប់អាវុធត្រូវតែឯករាជ្យជាដើម។ សូមអរគុណជាអនេកកប្បការ!           ថ្ងៃទី៤ ខែសីហា ២០១៨

View the speech through Youtube Channel of Cambodians Overseas

Read the speech in PDF file

Election in Malaysia in Reflecting Cambodia

Two things to be considerate on the recent election in Malaysia: the overseas Malaysians voters and the national institution.

Malaysian Election Commission is appointed by the King of Malaysia to conduct nationwide election. This election of May 9, 2018, 14 millions were registered to vote and 82% voter turnout. There are 7,979 Malaysian voters overseas according to the EC. Malaysia has allowed overseas citizens to vote since 2012 except in Singapore, southern Thailand, Kalimantan and Brunei. In Southeast Asia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, Philippines, and Singapore, have allowed overseas citizens to democratically vote during national elections.

Malaysia is Constitutional Monarchy like Cambodia. The King is the Head of State who exercises power through the provision of constitution to ensure rights and freedoms, commander-in-chief of the national arm-force, and chief of magistracy to ensure judiciary system is capable and competent.

លទ្ធផលនៃការបោះឆ្នោតនៅប្រទេសម៉ាឡេស៊ីកាលពីថ្ងៃទី៩ ខែឧសភាកន្លងទៅនេះ បានធ្វើឲ្យមានការភ្ញាក់ផ្អើលច្រើន ដោយសម្ព័ន្ធភាពនៃគណបក្សប្រឆាំងបានយកឈ្នះគណបក្សកាន់អំណាចជាលើកដំបូងក្នុងរយៈពេលជាង៦០ឆ្នាំ។ ការណ៍នេះមានឡើងស្របពេលដែលនិន្នាការនៃលទ្ធិប្រជាធិបតេយ្យបានថយចុះនៅបណ្តាប្រទេសផ្សេងទៀតនៅក្នុងតំបន់អាស៊ីអាគ្នេយ៍។ អ្នកតាមដានការបោះឆ្នោតពីររូបគឺលោក យឿង សុធារ៉ា អ្នកជំនាញខាងកិច្ចការបោះឆ្នោត និងលោក សេង សុភ័ណ នាយកប្រតិបត្តិនៃប្រធានគណៈកម្មាធិការដើម្បីសិទ្ធិបោះឆ្នោតរបស់ពលរដ្ឋខ្មែរនៅក្រៅប្រទេស (CEROC) ថ្លែងថា ប្រទេសកម្ពុជានិងប្រទេសអាស៊ីអាគ្នេយ៍ផ្សេងៗអាចរៀនសូត្របានច្រើនអំពីដំណើរការបោះឆ្នោតឯករាជ្យនៅប្រទេសម៉ាឡេស៊ី សិទ្ធិបោះឆ្នោតនៅក្រៅប្រទេសរបស់ពលរដ្ឋម៉ាឡេស៊ី ការផ្ទេរអំណាចដោយសន្តិភាពទៅកាន់រដ្ឋាភិបាលថ្មី និងការធ្វើតុល្យភាពនយោបាយការបរទេសក្នុងទំនាក់ទំនងជាមួយប្រទេសចិន។ (សឹង សុផាត, Hello VOA, វ៉ាស៊ីនតោន, ៧ មិថុនា ២០១៨)

News on the upcoming fake election of Cambodia and the Election Boycott

Lee Morgenbesser, an expert on authoritarian regimes, said the elections would “absolutely not” be free and fair, even with the CNRP’s participation.

Janet and LP 6“The minimum standard requires that all parties and candidates be subject to the same procedures for registering and appearing on the ballot; all campaign and compete on a level playing field; all have equal access to the media; voters be free to vote for their preferred candidates; and official results accurately reflect the votes that were cast,” he explained.

Cambodia has failed to satisfy each of these requirements – and few would be resolved even if the CNRP were revived.

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The government has even abandoned symbolic gestures such as Phnom Penh’s “Freedom Park,” established in 2010 to satisfy the country’s Law on Peaceful Demonstrations. The park, which hosted mass protests following the disputed 2013 elections, is supposed to be a designated area for citizens to gather in protest. It was closed down after Hun Sen ordered it to be relocated to the outskirts of the city, around 4 kilometers away from the original park. The relocation seems to violate a clause in the law that requires the park be easily accessible to the public. Today, 10-foot high metal walls have cropped up around the park, blocking access entirely.

The closure of Freedom Park may make little difference, given that Hun Sen has expressed his willingness to kill 100-200 people to maintain stability, and Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak bragged that nobody “dares” to protest.

The forced exclusion of the CNRP has understandably grabbed headlines. But the restrictions on free speech, media, civil society, freedoms of association and assembly, and the possible absence of election observers indicate that even if the CNRP were miraculously resurrected, the Cambodian elections would still be a far cry from free and fair.

Read more the Diplomat…

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If passed, the bill must be enacted into law within 180 days, although it is not yet clear when the House will vote on the legislation.

The Cambodia Democracy Act 2018 states that democracy has failed in Cambodia despite “decades of international attention and assistance,” and condemns the deteriorating situation for political rights, civil society and the free press.

The legislation’s co-sponsor, Alan Lowenthal, called the bill a “major step” towards holding Hun Sen and his associates accountable.

“I believe these sanctions will get the attention of the Cambodian government,” Lowenthal said in a statement, stressing that the US and world must act urgently. “I also believe that our action today will encourage other members of the international community to take similar actions and bring additional pressure to bear on Hun Sen.”

Cambodian officials identified as being involved in undermining democracy are already banned from traveling to the US following a December decree from the State Department.

There are now bills in both the US Senate and House that would impose asset freezes, although the Senate bill goes even further by requiring that the US oppose loans to Cambodia from international financial institutions. It also bans any negotiations on the more than US$500 million debt Cambodia owes America dating back to the 1970s.

Cambodian officials’ assets are difficult to track given that asset “declarations” sit in a closed envelope in the government’s Anti-Corruption Unit. Some high-ranking officials like Siphan are dual US-Cambodian citizens.

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Rainsy also said Hun Sen “is holding his people hostage and blackmailing donor nations” by flaunting the negative effects sanctions would have on average Cambodians.

“I am calling on the Cambodian people to be prepared for some additional hardship in our current fight for a democratic and peaceful change,” he said. “As in any battle for a just cause, a short-term sacrifice may be required to secure a better future.”

While the US hasn’t threatened the garment industry specifically, officials have warned that further action is on the cards.

Sophal foresees more sanctions coming after the July elections, which he doesn’t expect the US to recognize as free, fair or legitimate. “It’s clear as day the US will reject the results of the election and I expect more sanctions as Cambodian democracy is not only undermined but completely gutted.”

Read more on Asia Times…

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Voters and abstainers

Rather than a competition between the CPP and another party, the election is shaping up to be a competition between voters and abstainers. With the CPP all-but-guaranteed a win, it is voter turnout that counts. As Cambodian political analyst Meas Nee points out, the CPP’s concern is no longer winning the election, but maintaining legitimacy and “minimum recognition” from the international community.

Continue reading News on the upcoming fake election of Cambodia and the Election Boycott

Press Release on Public Forum in Vancouver of British Columbia

Press Release                                                                                  9:15 am

“The Crackdown of Democracy in Cambodia”                                         May 15, 2018

Press Release to Welcoming Sam RainsyCoup detat in July 1997 by second Premier Hun Sen to depose first Premier Prince Norodom Rannaridh left Cambodia’s seat at the UNs vacant under the supervision of Credential Committee of the UNs. In that time, US was the core leader to lobby other nation-states to aid this seat postponement. With current setback of democracy, Cambodia shall be inevitably facing tensions with the international community especially the Cambodia’s legal seat at the UNs. The same political manoeuvring as the coup in 1997, before the arrival of election day in July is the dissolution of the largest opposition party Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) by the Supreme Court which is a politically motivated. Many scholars and political observers including the director of human rights watch Brad Adam have viewed this dissolution as a cold-blood coup detat.

This May 14, the National Election Committee (NEC) of Cambodia closed its political party registration date and declared 4 parties to be correctly registered by allowing another 5 days to fulfilling other parties. Prime Minister Hun Sen predicted before the work of NEC that there will be at least 10 parties to join the election while the Ministry of Interior issued a listed political parties of over 41 parties by stating as “listing at the Ministry” without specifying on those parties have properly worked with due processes according to the laws such as the requirement of 4000 membership registration and the deposit of money over $4000 dollars with the Treasury Department etc. The political parties released by the NEC has no Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) and the leadership of this party has issued a statement to “boycott” this upcoming July 29, 2018 election.

The contentious election face-up to between opposition CNRP and government-led party CPP has come amid a belief that, at least, over 5 million of Cambodian eligible voters will refrain themselves from going to the ballot-booth to peaceful protest the wrong doing and the denial of voters’ rights by Prime Minister Hun Sen leadership. This latest authoritarian decision-making of Prime Minister Hun Sen has significantly violated the existing national Constitution and the spirit the Paris Peace Agreement signed in October 23, 1991 to guarantee multi-parties (plural) democracy, human rights, sustainable development, and the rule of law of Cambodia. Hun Sen and his entourages will be more ease than the gun-firing coup in 1997, but the pressures and the caution of losing political legitimacy is remained the same. Once again, the leadership of CNRP has come out in stronger unity after the party dissolution till today, while the condemnation of the international community including the United Nations have come out stronger and stronger. Many measures have been laid out and more pressures from the democratic countries are needed.

Canadian government led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should join in hand with the United Nations and the International Communities to pressure on authoritarian leadership of Prime Minister Hun Sen and to help bring back democracy to Cambodia. During this occasion of welcoming Mr. Sam Rainsy, former leader of CNRP and its co-founder, and current leader of Cambodia National Rescue Movement (CNRM) to visiting Vancouver in May 20, 2018 at 2:00 pm to 5:30 pm, we would like to invite media, federal and local politicians, and all democratic friends, to join us this rare public forum at Guildford Park Secondary School: 10707 146 Street, Surrey, BC

Further info: Sophoan Seng, 403-975-5415, info@khmeroversea.info

Press Release on Public Forum in Vancouver, BC in pdf