– having regard to its previous resolutions on Cambodia,
– having regard to Rules 144(5) and 132(4) of its Rules of Procedure,
A. whereas on 3 March 2023, following a trial deemed by UN experts to have ‘failed to meet the standard of either Cambodian or international human rights law’, Phnom Penh Municipal Court sentenced Kem Sokha to 27 years in jail, which he is temporarily allowed to serve under house arrest, and indefinitely suspended his political rights to vote and to stand for election;
B. whereas Kem Sokha the former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) president was arrested in 2017 over accusations of conspiracy to overthrow Prime Minister Hun Sen and held in arbitrary pre-trial detention until his conditional release into house arrest on 10 September 2018;
C. whereas since the Supreme Court of Cambodia dissolved the largest opposition party, the CNRP, the Cambodian Government has been cracking down on members of the political opposition by jailing and fining them, and forcing them into exile;
D. whereas Prime Minister Hun Sen has been in power almost without interruption for 38 years and the ruling party holds absolute power over the state and legislative bodies;
E. whereas the government crackdown on independent media, civil society organisations and political opposition that began in 2017 has continued, including through sham mass trials, the persecution of activists such as Seng Theary and the leadership and members of the opposition Candlelight Party, the restriction of liberties and the closure on 13 February 2023 of VOD, one of Cambodia’s last independent media outlets;
1. Calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Kem Sokha and all opposition officials and activists convicted or detained on politically motivated charges;
2. Urges the Cambodian authorities to ensure free and fair elections in July 2023, allowing all political parties to carry out equal, free and transparent electoral campaigns under a more inclusive and transparent national election committee; calls for the immediate reinstatement of the CNRP for participation in the 2023 elections;
3. Calls on the authorities to put an end to all forms of harassment, intimidation and politically motivated criminal charges against members of the opposition, trade unionists, human right defenders (HRDs), civil society and media actors and for the immediate reinstatement of VOD;
4. Calls for the coordinated use of available political avenues including the further suspension of Cambodia’s ‘Everything But Arms’ status if the 2023 elections deviate from international standards or violations of human rights continue;
5. Urges the Commission to define human rights benchmarks for its ongoing enhanced engagement with the Cambodian authorities, and to provide assistance to Cambodia’s civil society and HRDs;
6. Urges the Council to adopt targeted sanctions, under the EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime, to hold accountable all persons responsible for serious human rights violations and the dissolution and subsequent repression of the Cambodian opposition;
7. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the VP/HR, the ASEAN Secretary-General and the Government, Prime Minister and National Assembly of Cambodia.
The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement on Canada Day:
“Today, we celebrate the country we love, and the people we share it with. Canada is home to over 38 million people: Canadians who live in cities and towns – big and small; people who are indigenous to this land; and those who’ve been here for weeks, months, years, or for generations.“
Canada is strong because of our diversity. No matter what our faith is, where we were born, what colour our skin is, what language we speak, or who we love – we are all equal members of this great country.“
Today, we celebrate the place we all call home. I know for some, our country’s historic wrongs can make that difficult. But while we can’t change history, we can put in the work to build a better future; one that reflects our values of hope, resilience, kindness, respect, and generosity.
“Generation after generation, Canadians have shown that we can deliver on those values. We did it when we adopted our charter in 1982, we did it when we took care of each other during the pandemic, and we do it every day when we welcome refugees with open arms.
“Today is an opportunity for us all to recommit ourselves to those values – values that the Maple Leaf represents. Because our flag is more than a symbol, it’s also a promise. A promise of opportunity. A promise of safety for those fleeing violence and war. And a promise of a better life.
“As we come together today, let’s think about what this country means to us – and tomorrow, let’s challenge ourselves to find new ways to live up to the great promise of Canada.
Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks to Cambodian expatriates in Washington D.C. on May 11. (Hun Sen’s Facebook Page)
Regarding the news article by VOD, “Hun Sen Rules Out Postal Voting for Cambodia During His US Tour”, Prime Minister Hun Sen’s comments twist the reality of overseas voting for the public, as there are plenty of other overseas voting methods that the Committee for Election Right of Overseas Cambodians (CEROC) has advocated for.
We should learn from neighboring countries — Thailand, Philippines and Myanmar alike allow overseas voters to cast ballots in domestic elections, and they do not utilize a postal voting mechanism at all. They set up booths in overseas communities where eligible voters can cast ballots. Embassies have played vital roles to accommodate such facilities in foreign countries, regardless of whether the voters are migrant workers, students, soldiers on mission, government officials, or dual citizens.
Next month, Cambodia will hold elections for its 1,652 communes and sangkats, an event that normally foreshadows the result of the national elections held the following year. The June 5 polls will see about 9.2 million registered voters elect the chief and councilors from among more than 80,000 candidates belonging to 17 political parties.
But barring “genuine efforts toward democratization and political reform” by the the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP)-controlled government, the election is likely to fall far short of being “fair, credible, transparent, inclusive, and peaceful,” the Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL) said in a pre-election analysis of the country’s political landscape and legal framework.
The analysis, based on more than 60 interviews with electoral stakeholders including representatives of civil society groups, political parties, the media, labor unions, academia, the diplomatic community, and international organizations, found that political repression and a restrictive legal framework have narrowed the country’s political space since the last commune elections in 2017.
“Overall, Cambodia still falls short of the standard of democratic elections according to ANFREL’s Dili Indicator for Democratic Elections,” the report concluded. “There will be no genuine and legitimate election outcome as long as threats against the opposition and civic society remain prevalent.”
The reasons adduced by ANFREL include the effective control by the CPP of the National Election Committee and other key state bodies and institutions; the sustained crackdowns on the political opposition, civil society groups, activists, and the independent media; and the CPP’s intimidation of opposition parties seeking to run in the upcoming elections. While the June 5 poll will involve more parties than participated in the last election in 2017, “many opposition candidates and members… continue to experience harassment and intimidation on the ground,” the report found.
Read detail in The Diplomate: https://thediplomat.com/2022/05/cambodia-polls-unlikely-to-be-credible-and-transparent-says-watchdog/
“The workers encourage the government to arrange voting at the embassy [in Bangkok],” Sophen said.
Civil society election observers have previously said that overseas Cambodians should be better enfranchised by creating mechanisms to allow them to participate in elections. Opposition politicians have suggested that the ruling party was dragging its feet because those voters would likely vote against the CPP.
Read details in VOD: https://vodenglish.news/hun-sen-rules-out-postal-voting-for-cambodia-during-his-us-tour/