H.R.526 bill was passed by the Congress and sent to the Senate immediately

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Referred in Senate (07/16/2019)

116th CONGRESS
1st Session

H. R. 526


IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATESJuly 16, 2019

Received; read twice and referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations


AN ACT

To promote free and fair elections, political freedoms, and human rights in Cambodia, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the “Cambodia Democracy Act of 2019”.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

Congress finds the following:

(1) Prime Minister Hun Sen has been in power in Cambodia since 1985 and is the longest-serving leader in Southeast Asia. Despite decades of international attention and assistance to promote a pluralistic, multi-party democratic system in Cambodia, the Government of Cambodia continues to be undemocratically dominated by the ruling Cambodia People’s Party (CPP), which controls every agency and security apparatus of the state.

(2) In 2015, the CPP-controlled parliament passed the “Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations”, which gave the government sweeping powers to revoke the registration of NGOs that the government believed to be operating with a political bias in a blatant attempt to restrict the legitimate work of civil society. On August 23, 2017, Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs ordered the closure of the National Democratic Institute and the expulsion of its foreign staff. On September 15, 2017, Prime Minister Hun Sen called for the withdrawal of all volunteers from the United States Peace Corps, which has operated in Cambodia since 2006 with 500 United States volunteers providing English language and healthcare training.

(3) The Government of Cambodia has taken several measures to restrict its media environment, especially through politicized tax investigations against independent media outlets that resulted in the closure of The Cambodian Daily and Radio Free Asia in early September 2017. Additionally, the Government of Cambodia has ordered several radio stations to stop the broadcasting of Radio Free Asia and Voice of America programming.

(4) On September 3, 2017, Kem Sokha, the President of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), was arrested on politically motivated charges, including treason and conspiring to overthrow the Government of Cambodia, and faces up to 30 years in prison. The CNRP’s previous leader, Sam Rainsy, remains in exile. On November 16, 2017, Cambodia’s Supreme Court dissolved the CNRP, eliminating the primary opposition party.

(5) Each of the six elections that have taken place in Cambodia since 1991 were conducted in circumstances that were not free and fair, and were marked by fraud, intimidation, violence, and the government’s misuse of legal mechanisms to weaken opposition candidates and parties.

(6) In the most recent general election in July 2018, following the dissolution of the CNRP, the CPP secured every parliamentary seat, an electoral victory that a statement from the White House Press Secretary stated was “neither free nor fair and failed to represent the will of the Cambodian people”.

(7) The United States is committed to promoting democracy, human rights, and the rule of law in Cambodia. The United States continues to urge the Government of Cambodia to immediately release Mr. Kem Sokha, reinstate the political status of the CNRP and restore its elected seats in the National Assembly, and support electoral reform efforts in Cambodia with free and fair elections monitored by international observers.

SEC. 3. SANCTIONS RELATING TO UNDERMINING DEMOCRACY IN CAMBODIA.

(a) Designation Of Persons Responsible For Undermining Democracy In Cambodia.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the President shall designate and transmit to the appropriate congressional committees a list of—

(A) each senior official of the government, military, or security forces of Cambodia who the President determines has directly and substantially undermined democracy in Cambodia;

(B) each senior official of the government, military, or security forces of Cambodia who the President determines has committed or directed serious human rights violations associated with undermining democracy in Cambodia; and

(C) entities owned or controlled by senior officials of the government, military, or security forces of Cambodia described in subparagraphs (A) and (B).

(2) IMPOSITION OF SANCTIONS.—The President shall impose the sanctions described in subsection (b) on each foreign person designated pursuant to paragraph (1).

(3) UPDATES.—The President shall transmit to the appropriate congressional committees updated lists under paragraph (1) as new information becomes available.

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Hun Sen’s Man in Washington (State)

Hun Sen’s Man in Washington (State)

Cambodia’s strongman has found an unlikely American voice.

BY CHARLES DUNST | JULY 16, 2019, 1:47 PM

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen waves during the Cambodian People's Party ceremony to mark the 40th anniversary of the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime in Phnom Penh on January 7.

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia—Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen is having trouble making friends in the United States under President Donald Trump.

While past Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama pursued tentative cooperation with Cambodia, the United States—when it is paying attention to Cambodia at all—has grown increasingly frustrated with the Hun Sen government’s authoritarianism and alignment with China. The White House has issued repeated rebukes, even cutting aid to Cambodia. And in May, three U.S. senators—Lindsey Graham, Dick Durbin, and Marco Rubio—introduced a bipartisan bill prescribing financial penalties if Cambodia does not “protect its sovereignty from interference” by China and reverse its crackdown on the political opposition.

Unable to find purchase in Washington, Hun Sen, for domestic political purposes, has turned to an unlikely next best: Washington state.

Doug Ericksen, a Republican who represents Washington state’s 42nd legislative district in the state senate and served previously as one of Trump’s campaign deputies, inearly April registered with the U.S. Justice Department as a foreign agent of the Cambodian government, cementing his status, several years in the making, as Hun Sen’s American defender-in-chief.

As relations between Phnom Penh and Washington began to sour—a rift accelerated by Hun Sen’s imprisonment of opposition leader Kem Sokha in 2017—Ericksen, a run-of-the-mill state-level Republican lawmaker, began turning up more and more in Cambodia and in Cambodian media. During visits to Cambodia beginning in 2016 that predate his formal registration as a lobbyist, he lent his voice to pro-government media outlets, which used his remarks to counter an increasingly unified chorus of Western criticism. The audience in mind is domestic: Cambodians, according to Noan Sereiboth, a blogger who leads the Cambodian youth political discussion group Politikoffee, “want the relation[ship] with the U.S. [to be] closer.” Public opinion polling tells a similar story. Hun Sen wants and perhaps needs to show that he enjoys U.S. support, even as official relations grow poorer.

To that end, as the White House condemns him and the U.S. Senate mulls economic penalties for Cambodia, Hun Sen has turned to word games to help keep up perceptions. Even in the United States, the distinction between Washington, D.C., the nation’s capital, and Washington state, in the Pacific Northwest, is the subject of occasional confusion. In Cambodia, that confusion is augmented by an understandable lack of familiarity with U.S. geography and encouraged by the Cambodian government and media, which refer to Ericksen as a senator, not as a state senator.

Hun Sen has turned to word games to help keep up perceptions.

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មុនស្លាប់ តើលោក លីខ្វាន់យូ បានសរសេរដូចម្ដេចខ្លះអំពីប្រទេសកម្ពុជា?

មុនស្លាប់ តើលោក លីខ្វាន់យូ បានសរសេរដូចម្ដេចខ្លះអំពីប្រទេសកម្ពុជា?

លោកថា៖ «ប្រជាជនកម្ពុជា គឺជាមនុស្សបរាជ័យ។ ប្រទេសត្រូវខ្ទេច វណ្ណៈអ្នកមានការអប់រំរបស់ប្រទេសនេះត្រូវបានកម្ទេច [ហើយ]សេដ្ឋកិច្ចត្រូវបានបំផ្លាញ។ រដ្ឋប្រហារ*របស់លោក ហ៊ុន សែន ធ្វើអោយការចូលជាសមាជិកអាស៊ានរបស់កម្ពុជាត្រូវបានផ្អាក»។ លោក លី ខ្វាន់យូ បានបញ្ចប់ថា៖ «មេដឹកនាំបច្ចុប្បន្នរបស់[កម្ពុជា] គឺជាលទ្ធផលនៃការច្បាំងយ៉ាងជូរចត់ [និង]មួយអស់ដៃ ហើយក្នុងនោះ គូប្រជែងត្រូវបានគេកម្ទេច ឬកាច់ធ្មុង។ [មេដឹកនាំទាំងនេះ] គ្មានក្ដីមេត្តាទេ ហើយសាហាវ គឺគ្មានមនោសញ្ចេតនាជាមនុស្ស។ ប្រវត្តិសាស្ត្រព្រៃផ្សៃណាស់សម្រាប់ជនជាតិខ្មែរ»។

October 12, 2018 ជុំ សុខណា ក្រឡេកក្រោយ,រណឫទ្ធិ, ហ៊ុន សែន

Before His Death, What Did Lee Kuan Yew Write about Cambodia?

ដោយ៖ ជុំ សុខណា

ភ្នំពេញ៖ លោក លី ខ្វាន់យូ(Lee Kuan Yew) គឺជាបិតាស្ថាបនិកប្រទេសសាំងកាពួរ (ឬសិង្ហបុរី) ដែលបានប្រវេប្រវាកសាងប្រទេសនៅតំបន់អាស៊ីអាគ្នេយ៍មួយនេះ ពីប្រទេសតតិយលោក រហូតមកក្លាយជាប្រទេសអ្នកមាន។ លោកធ្វើជានាយករដ្ឋមន្ត្រីសាំងកាពួរពីឆ្នាំ១៩៥៩ ដល់ឆ្នាំ១៩៩០ ហើយលោកទទួលមរណភាពនៅឆ្នាំ២០១៥។

លោក លី ខ្វាន់យូ ត្រូវបានគេស្គាល់ថា ជាមេដឹកនាំដែលផ្ដាច់ការ តែប្រកបដោយទស្សនវិស័យភ្លឺស្វាង។ ការដឹកនាំប្រទេសរបស់គាត់ គឺកត់សម្គាល់ដោយពង្រឹងវិន័យរបស់ប្រជាជនសាំងកាពួរម្នាក់ៗ។ ចំណុចនេះហើយ ដែលធ្វើអោយប្រទេសបស្ចឹមលោក ដែលគោរពសិទ្ធិបុគ្គលនោះ តែងតែចោទប្រកាន់លោក លី ខ្វាន់យូ ថាបានរំលោភលើសិទ្ធិឯកជនរបស់ពលរដ្ឋខ្លួន ដែលនេះក៏ជាប្រធានបទសួរដេញដោលមួយដែរ នៅពេលដែលលោកត្រូវបានអញ្ជើញអោយថ្លែងទៅកាន់សភារួមរបស់សហរដ្ឋអាមេរិកនៅខែតុលា ឆ្នាំ១៩៨៥។

ប៉ុន្តែទោះជាយ៉ាងណាក៏ដោយ ក្រោយពីបានមើលឃើញភាពជោគជ័យនៃការកសាងរដ្ឋសាំងកាពួរ ពិភពលោកបានផ្ដល់តម្លៃយ៉ាងខ្លាំងចំពោះទស្សនៈរបស់លោក។ ក្នុងនោះរួមមានការរៀបចំវេទិកាជាច្រើន ដែលអញ្ជើញលោកធ្វើជាវាគ្មិន ទោះបីជាលោកមានវ័យជរាណាស់ទៅហើយក៏ដោយ។ មនុស្សនៅតែចាប់អារម្មណ៍ចង់ស្ដាប់គំនិតរបស់លោកក្នុងការដឹកនាំប្រទេសនានា ដែលរាប់តាំងពីអ្នកសួរចង់អោយលោកផ្ដល់យោបល់ពីរបៀបដឹកនាំប្រទេសឥណ្ឌា រហូតដល់វៀតណាម។

មុនលោកស្លាប់ លោកក៏បាននិពន្ធសៀវភៅមួយក្បាលដែលបោះពុម្ពនៅឆ្នាំ២០០០ និងមានចំណងជើងថា៖ «ពីប្រទេសតតិយលោក មកកាន់ប្រទេសបឋមលោក(From Third World To First)»។ នៅក្នុងសៀវភៅដែលមានកម្រាស់ ៧២៩ទំព័រនេះ ក៏មាននិយាយអំពីប្រទេសកម្ពុជាប្រហែល ៤ទំព័រដែរ។ នេះអាចប្រហែលមកពីប្រទេសកម្ពុជាមិនសូវសំខាន់ ឬក៏លោក លី ខ្វាន់យូ ផ្ទាល់មានទំនាក់ទំនងតិចតួចជាមួយកម្ពុជា។

នៅក្នុងការនិយាយអំពីប្រទេសកម្ពុជានេះ លោក លី ខ្វាន់យូ បាននិយាយទៅដល់ឥស្សរជននយោបាយសំខាន់ៗចំនួន ៣រូប គឺសម្ដេច សីហនុ ទ្រង់ រណឫទ្ធិ និងលោក ហ៊ុន សែន។

ចំពោះសម្ដេច សីហនុ លោក លី ខ្វាន់យូ បានប្រើពាក្យបរិយាយយ៉ាងដូច្នេះថា៖ «[សម្តេច] សីហនុ គឺជាមនុស្សមានប្រជាប្រិយក្រៃលែង ឆ្លៀវឆ្លាតខ្លាំង និងពោរពេញដោយថាមភាព និងការរីករាយជាមួយជីវិត។ គាត់មានលក្ខណៈ និងបែបបទជាសុភាពបុរសបារាំងដែលមានការអប់រំ ក្នុងនោះរួមទាំងអាកប្បកិរិយា និងឫកពារ ហើយគាត់និយាយភាសាអង់គ្លេសស្ទីលបារាំង»។

សម្ដេចព្រះ នរោត្តម សីហនុ អតីតព្រះមហាក្សត្រខ្មែរ។

លោក លី ខ្វាន់យូ បានពិពណ៌នាអំពីទ្រង់បន្ថែមថា៖ «ព្រះអង្គម្ចាស់អង្គនេះឆេវឆាវ(mercurial) ប្រតិកម្មរហ័សទៅកាន់ពាក្យរិះគន់។ គាត់តែងតែឆ្លើយតបនឹងអត្ថបទសារព័ត៌មានទាំងឡាយណា ដែលមានលក្ខណៈរិះគន់។ នយោបាយ សម្រាប់គាត់គឺសារព័ត៌មាន និងការលេចមុខជាសាធារណៈ»។

Continue reading “មុនស្លាប់ តើលោក លីខ្វាន់យូ បានសរសេរដូចម្ដេចខ្លះអំពីប្រទេសកម្ពុជា?”
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Hun Sen’s Cambodia could be in trouble

Hun Sen’s Cambodia could be in trouble

Jason Thomas 3 June 2019

His victory came after a political crackdown which saw the dissolution of the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP), the detention of its leader Kem Sokha, and the banning from political activity of 118 senior CNRP members.

Hun Sen has ruled Cambodia for more than 34 years, and the EU Foreign Affairs Council has deemed the recent 2018 elections as “not legitimate”.


This file photo shows Cambodian female workers sewing at a factory in Sihanouk province, some 230 kilometres southwest of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. (Tang Chhin Sothy / AFP Photo)

Op-Ed: The ASEAN Post

There is growing concern about the European Union’s (EU) proposed suspension of its Everything But Arms (EBA) trade agreement with Cambodia, a move which could set the country back years.

Established in 2001, EBA gives 49 of the world’s least developed countries tax-free access to vital EU markets for their exports except for arms and ammunition.

While the EU has always warned that EBA preferences can be removed if beneficiary countries fail to respect core United Nations (UN) and International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions, there is a real threat that this could come at the cost of massive unemployment and stagnant growth in Cambodia.

Source: World Bank

Role in economy, employment

Making up 39 percent of the country’s total exports, the garment and footwear sectors employ more than 700,000 Cambodians and are the country’s largest employers. Cambodia’s exports to the EU totalled US$5.47 billion last year – more than a third of its total exports – with textiles and footwear making up the majority of that sum.

After the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia warned of a halt in the country’s development in February due to the possible EBA suspension, the National Union Alliance Chamber of Cambodia (NUACC) last week said that the lifting of the tariff system will affect the livelihoods of about three million Cambodians.

On 2 May, a coalition of 20 international brands which source from Cambodia – including Nike, adidas and Levi Strauss – wrote a letter to Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen outlining their concerns that the labour and human rights situation in Cambodia is posing a risk to trade preferences for the country.

The EBA suspension would increase tariffs in the garment sector by 12 percent and the footwear sector by eight to 16 percent, costing US$676 million in additional taxes. The fear is that the rise in tariffs could lead to investors moving to other countries that enjoy EBA, thus affecting Cambodian jobs.

The NUACC estimated that some 43 percent of garment workers (nearly 225,000 people) and 20 percent of footwear workers (more than 20,000 people) would be left unemployed, stating that “research suggests and history demonstrates that economic sanctions lead to an increase in poverty – especially among women, minority communities and other marginalised groups.”

Why is the EBA being removed? 

The EBA has led to a 630 percent increase in Cambodia’s garment and footwear exports to the EU since 2008, helping the Cambodian economy to grow by 7.5 percent in 2018 according to the World Bank. The two sectors recorded a five-year high in 2018, rising by 17.6 percent – more than double the 8.3 percent increase in 2017.

Helping to lift one-third of the country’s population out of poverty between 2007 and 2014, the garment and footwear sectors are now at risk following the EU’s decision to start an 18-month review on whether to suspend duty-free preferences in February after the European Commission called Cambodia out for its “deterioration of democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law.”

The EU warned Cambodia that it could lose this special status after last July’s elections kept Hun Sen in power and saw his Cambodian People’s Party win all parliamentary seats.

His victory came after a political crackdown which saw the dissolution of the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP), the detention of its leader Kem Sokha, and the banning from political activity of 118 senior CNRP members.

Hun Sen has ruled Cambodia for more than 34 years, and the EU Foreign Affairs Council has deemed the recent 2018 elections as “not legitimate”.

Correct approach?

Is the EBA suspension – which, if confirmed, will only come into effect in August 2020 – really the best way to address Cambodia’s poor human rights record and democratic strength?

Continue reading “Hun Sen’s Cambodia could be in trouble”
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