In London, Cambodian Elites Tread in the Kremlin’s Footsteps by RFA Investigation News

Posted by: | Posted on: August 15, 2020

In September 2017, Chanthima’s older sister, Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs official Neth Vichhuna, bought two adjoining luxury flats in Kensington for £5.5 million ($6.9 million). Title deeds for the property obtained by RFA indicate the then-24-year-old bought the property without a mortgage, suggesting she had almost $7 million to hand in cash at the time.

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When not crisscrossing the globe on private jets, their aunt Hun Chantha lives just 50 meters from Vichhuna’s London bolthole in an apartment worth in excess of $5 million. As detailed in an RFA investigation published in December, when in Britain’s capital city Chantha keeps a busy social schedule and is frequently photographed at high society charity functions where champagne and altruism flow in tandem.

Posing in front of the Houses of Parliament: Neth Vichhuna (right) pictured with her aunts Hun Chantha (center) and Hun Chanthou (left) in London. Credit: Vichhuna on Instagram : Source:(RFA)

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By most traditional measures, Cambodia and Russia are far more corrupt places than Great Britain. This is reflected in global rankings such as Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, in which the U.K. scores 12th best, while Moscow comes in at 137th and Cambodia 162nd out of 198 countries.

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In its introduction, the Russia Report describes its subject nation as “both very strong and very weak,” ascribing its strengths to its victory in World War Two and its status as the inheritor of the Soviet Union’s achievements. Cambodia has no similar claim to recent victories, except perhaps the defeat of the Khmer Rouge, whose former commanders now permeate its government. But in many respects, Phnom Penh and Moscow are alike.

Giving evidence to the Intelligence and Security Committee, Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service described the “muddy nexus between business and corruption and state power in Russia.” A similar statement could be made about Cambodia, where business success is often predicated on having paid up a patronage pyramid whose capstone is Hun Sen.

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A 2017 investigation by BuzzFeed — From Russia with Blood — put a spotlight on sinister allegations of a Moscow-directed assassination campaign.

Witness the fact that Hun Kimleng and Neth Vichhuna, wife and daughter to Cambodia’s most senior police officer, have a combined London property portfolio worth in excess of $10 million. And Hun Chantha, owner of close to $7 million of London real estate, although now remarried, was once married to the now-head of the Cambodian Interior Ministry’s Central Security Department, Dy Vichea. His promotion to that position was signed off on by none other than Chantha’s brother-in-law, the national police chief Neth Savoeun.

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ស្ថាប័នជាតិមិនមែនជាផ្នែកមួយនៃនីតិបញ្ញត្តិទេ

Posted by: | Posted on: August 15, 2020

តាមគោលការណ៍ គណៈបក្សនយោបាយឈ្នះឆ្នោតអាចស្នើឈ្មោះតែងតាំងមនុស្សក្នុងបក្សសម្រាប់តំណែងមួយចំនួនដូចជាឧបនាយករដ្ឋមន្ត្រី រដ្ឋមន្ត្រី និងរដ្ឋលេខាធិការប៉ុណ្ណោះ។ ទោះជាយ៉ាងនេះក្តី តំណែងកូតាបក្សនយោបាយដែលចូលមកថ្មីត្រូវធ្វើការសហការយ៉ាងជិតស្និតជាមួយក្រុមការងារបច្ចេកទេសដែលជាមន្ត្រីរាជការស៊ីវិលជ្រើសរើសឡើងតាមក្រិតក្រមត្រឹមត្រូវតាមសមត្ថភាពនិងបទពិសោធន៍ជាក់ស្តែង(meritocracy) ដោយអនុវត្តន៍យ៉ាងតឹងរឹងដល់ក្របខណ្ឌរដ្ឋដែលគ្របដណ្តប់ដោយច្បាប់ បទដ្ឋាន គតិយុត្តិ មានច្បាប់សហលក្ខន្តិកៈមន្ត្រីរាជការ ជាដើម។

នៅចំពោះការយល់ឃើញមួយចំនួនរបស់មហាជននិងមេដឹកនាំខ្មែរជាពិសេសលោកនាយករដ្ឋមន្ត្រីហ៊ុនសែនដែលថាស្ថាប័នជាតិគឺស្ថិក្រោមខុទ្ធការល័យនាយករដ្ឋមន្ត្រីទាំងស្រុងឬនីតិបញ្ញត្តិគ្រប់គ្រងស្ថាប័នជាតិនោះ ការយល់នេះគឺខុសហើយ

នៅចំពោះការយល់ឃើញមួយចំនួនរបស់មហាជននិងមេដឹកនាំខ្មែរជាពិសេសលោកនាយករដ្ឋមន្ត្រីហ៊ុនសែនដែលថាស្ថាប័នជាតិគឺស្ថិក្រោមខុទ្ធការល័យនាយករដ្ឋមន្ត្រីទាំងស្រុងឬនីតិបញ្ញត្តិគ្រប់គ្រងស្ថាប័នជាតិនោះ ការយល់នេះគឺខុសហើយ។ នៅ​នីតិកាល​នីមួយៗ​នៃ​សភា រាជរដ្ឋាភិបាល​នៃ​ប្រទេស​កម្ពុជា​ អង្គ​នីតិប្រតិបត្តិ ត្រូវ​បាន​បង្កើត​ឡើង​សម្រាប់​អាណត្តិ​៥​ឆ្នាំ​ តាម​រយៈ​ការ​បោះ​ឆ្នោត​ជាស​កល​ និង​ដោយ​ផ្ទាល់​។​ តាម​ការ​ស្នើ​សុំ​របស់​ប្រធានរដ្ឋសភា​ និង​ដោយ​មានការ​យល់ព្រម​ពី​អនុប្រធាន​ទាំង​ពីរ​។ ព្រះមហាក្សត្រ​ ក្នុង​នាម​ជាព្រះ​ប្រមុខរដ្ឋ​ តែងតាំង​ឥស្សរជន​ជាន់ខ្ពស់​មួយ​រូប​ ដែល​ជា​សមាជិក​គណបក្ស​នយោបាយ​ឈ្នះ​ឆ្នោត​ ឲ្យ​បង្កើត​គណៈរដ្ឋមន្ត្រី​។​ ក្រោយ​ពី​ការ​បោះ​ឆ្នោតជាតិ​ឆ្នាំ​២០១៣​ រាជរដ្ឋាភិបាល​ អាណត្តិ​ទី​៥​ ត្រូវ​បាន​បង្កើត​ឡើង​។​1  

​គណៈរដ្ឋមន្ត្រី​ ក្រសួង​ និង​ស្ថាប័ន​ជាតិ​ អាច​មានការ​ប្រែរ​ប្រួល​ទាំង​សមាសភាព​ និង​សមាជិកភាព​។​ ព្រះរាជក្រឹត្យ​ អាច​កែរ​សម្រួល​ទៅ​លើ​សមាសភាព​គណៈរដ្ឋមន្ត្រី​ និង​ថ្នាក់ដឹកនាំ​នៅ​តាម​ក្រសួង​ និង​ស្ថាប័ន​ជាតិ​ផ្សេងៗ​។​ នេះ​ មាន​ន័យ​ថា​ មិនមែន​គ្រប់​សមាជិក​ទាំងអស់​នៃ​គណៈរដ្ឋមន្ត្រី​ ចាំបាច់​ទទួល​ការ​ការ​បោះ​ឆ្នោត​ទុកចិត្ត​ពី​រដ្ឋសភា​នោះ​ទេ​ ដែល​ការ​បោះ​ឆ្នោត​ទុកចិត្ត​នេះ​ តែងតែ​ធ្វើ​នៅ​ដើម​អាណត្តិ​រាជរដ្ឋាភិបាល​ប៉ុណ្ណោះ​។​

​សមាជិក​រាជរដ្ឋាភិបាល​ស្ទើរតែ​ទាំងអស់​ គឺជា​ប្រធាន​ក្រសួង​ និង​ស្ថាប័ន​ជាតិ​។​ ក្នុង​គោលបំណង​រក្សា​ឯករាជ្យ​ភាព​របស់​ស្ថាប័ន​ទាំងនេះ​ពី​រាជរដ្ឋាភិបាល​ ប្រធាន​ និង​សមាជិក​ស្ថាប័ន​ជាតិ​ខ្លះ​ មិនមែន​ជា​សមាជិក​រាជរដ្ឋាភិបាល​ទេ​។​ ទាំងនេះ​ មាន​ន័យ​ថា​ ស្ថាប័ន​ជាតិ​ទាំងនេះ​ មិនមែន​ជា​ផ្នែក​នៃ​អង្គ​នីតិប្រតិបត្តិ​ អង្គនីតិប្បញ្ញត្តិ​ និង​អង្គ​តុលាការ​ទេ​ ប៉ុន្តែ​ជា​ស្ថាប័ន​ជាតិ​ឯករាជ្យ​ដោយឡែក​។​ 

​ក្រសួង​ស្ទើរតែ​ទាំងអស់​ ត្រូវ​បាន​បង្កើត​ឡើង​ នៅ​ឆ្នាំ​១៩៩៥​ ។​ ក្រសួង​តិចតួច​ប៉ុណ្ណោះ​ ទើបតែ​ត្រូវ​បាន​បង្កើត​ឡើង​នា​ពេល​ថ្មីៗ​នេះ​ ដោយ​ការ​បំបែក​ក្រសួង​មួយ​ ឲ្យ​ទៅ​ជា​ក្រសួង​ពីរ​ផ្សេង​គ្នា2​ ឬ​ដោយ​ការ​តំឡើង​ថ្នាក់​ពី​រដ្ឋលេខាធិការដ្ឋាន​ មក​ជា​ក្រសួង3​ ។​ សព្វ​ថ្ងៃនេះ​ រាជរដ្ឋាភិបាល​នៃ​ប្រទេស​កម្ពុជា​ មាន​ក្រសួង​និង​រដ្ឋលេខាធិការដ្ឋាន​ មាន​ចំនួន​សរុប​ ២៨​ ព្រមទាំង​ស្ថាប័ន​ជាតិ​មួយ​ចំនួន​ផ្សេង​ទៀត​ ដូច​មាន​រាយ​ឈ្មោះ​ត្រួសៗ​ខាងក្រោម​។​

ស្ថាប័ន​ជាតិ​មួយ​ចំនួន​ មាន​ចែង​ក្នុង​រដ្ឋធម្មនុញ្ញ​ ហើយ​មួយ​ចំនួន​ទៀត​មាន​ ប្បញ្ញត្តិ​ក្នុង​ច្បាប់​។​ ខណៈ​ដែល​ស្ថាប័ន​ជាតិ​ ត្រូវ​បង្កើត​ឡើង​ដោយ​ច្បាប់​ ឬ​ព្រះរាជក្រឹត្យ​ ការ​រៀបចំ​ និង​ការ​ប្រព្រឹត្ត​ទៅ​នៃ​ស្ថាប័ន​ទាំងនេះ​ ត្រូវ​កំណត់​ដោយ​អនុក្រឹត្យ​របស់​រាជរដ្ឋាភិបាល​ (​ដើម្បី​ស្វែង​យល់​អំពី​ប្រភេទ​ ឋានានុក្រម​ និង​នីតិវិធី​ច្បាប់​ នៃ​អត្ថបទ​ច្បាប់​ពាក់ព័ន្ធ​ សូម​ចូល​ទៅ​កាន់​ ច្បាប់​ និង​ប្រព័ន្ធ​តុលាការ)​។​

​កំណែទម្រង់​គួរ​ឲ្យ​កត់សម្គាល់​ ដែល​កើតឡើង​ជាមួយនឹង​ស្ថាប័ន​ជាតិ​ភាគច្រើន​ កើតឡើង​ភ្លាមៗ​ នៅ​ក្រោយ​ពី​ការ​បោះ​ឆ្នោតជាតិ​ឆ្នាំ​២០១៣​។​ ស្ថាប័ន​ជាតិ​ទាំងនោះ​ លែង​ដាក់​ឲ្យ​ស្ថិត​នៅ​ក្រោម​ទីស្តីការគណៈរដ្ឋមន្ត្រី​ ហើយ​ ប៉ុន្តែ​នៅ​ក្រោម​ក្រសួង​ទទួល​បន្ទុក​ នៃ​រាជរដ្ឋាភិបាល​។​4   កំនែទម្រង់​នេះ​ មាន​គោលដៅ​រៀបចំ​ និង​ដាក់​បញ្ចូល​ស្ថាប័ន​ជាតិ​ទទួល​បន្ទុក​តាម​វិស័យ​ទាំងនោះ​ ទៅ​ក្នុង​រចនាសម្ព័ន្ធ​នៃ​ក្រសួង​ជាប់​ពាក់ព័ន្ធ​។​

តាមគោលការណ៍ គណៈបក្សនយោបាយឈ្នះឆ្នោតអាចស្នើឈ្មោះតែងតាំងមនុស្សក្នុងបក្សសម្រាប់តំណែងមួយចំនួនដូចជាឧបនាយករដ្ឋមន្ត្រី រដ្ឋមន្ត្រី និងរដ្ឋលេខាធិការប៉ុណ្ណោះ។ ទោះជាយ៉ាងនេះក្តី តំណែងកូតាបក្សនយោបាយដែលចូលមកថ្មីត្រូវធ្វើការសហការយ៉ាងជិតស្និតជាមួយក្រុមការងារបច្ចេកទេសដែលជាមន្ត្រីរាជការស៊ីវិលជ្រើសរើសឡើងតាមក្រិតក្រមត្រឹមត្រូវតាមសមត្ថភាពនិងបទពិសោធន៍ជាក់ស្តែង(meritocracy) ដោយអនុវត្តន៍យ៉ាងតឹងរឹងដល់ក្របខណ្ឌរដ្ឋដែលគ្របដណ្តប់ដោយច្បាប់ បទដ្ឋាន គតិយុត្តិ មានច្បាប់សហលក្ខន្តិកៈមន្ត្រីរាជការ ជាដើម។

បញ្ជី​ឈ្មោះ​ក្រសួង​ និង​ស្ថាប័ន​ជាតិ​នៃ​រាជរដ្ឋាភិបាល​ មាន​ដូច​ខាងក្រោម​នេះ​។​ តំណរ​ភ្ជាប់​នីមួយៗ​ នឹង​ផ្តល់​ជូន​ព័ត៌មាន​លម្អិត​បន្ថែម​អំពី​យុត្តាធិការ​ និង​វិស័យ​ទទួលខុសត្រូវ​របស់​ក្រសួង​ ឬ​ស្ថាប័ន​ជាតិ​នីមួយៗ​។​ បណ្តុំ​នៃ​ព័ត៌មាន​ និង​ទិន្នន័យ​ អាច​រកបាន​នៅ​តាម​គេហទំព័រ​របស់​ក្រសួង​ និង​ស្ថាប័ន​នីមួយៗ​។​

ក្រសួង និងរដ្ឋលេខាដ្ឋាន

  1. ទីស្តីការគណៈរដ្ឋមន្រ្តី
  2. ក្រសួងកសិកម្ម រុក្ខាប្រមាញ់ និងនេសាទ
  3. ក្រសួងមុខងារសាធារណៈ
  4. ក្រសួងពាណិជ្ជកម្ម
  5. ក្រសួងធម្មការនិងសាសនា
  6. ក្រសួងវប្បធម៌ និងវិចិត្រសិល្បៈ
  7. ក្រសួងសេដ្ឋកិច្ច និងហិរញ្ញវត្ថុ
  8. ក្រសួងអប់រំ យុវជន និងកីឡា
  9. ក្រសួងបរិស្ថាន
  10. ក្រសួងការបរទេស និងសហប្រតិបត្តិការ
  11. ក្រសួងសុខាភិបាល
  12. ក្រសួងឧស្សាហកម្ម និងសិប្បកម្ម
  13. ក្រសួងព័ត៌មាន
  14. ក្រសួងមហាផ្ទៃ
  15. ក្រសួងយុត្តិធម៌
  16. ក្រសួងការងារ និងបណ្តុះបណ្តាលវិជ្ជាជីវៈ
  17. ក្រសួងរៀបចំដែនដី នគរូបនីយកម្ម និងសំណង់
  18. ក្រសួងរ៉ែ និងថាមពល
  19. ក្រសួងការពារជាតិ
  20. ក្រសួងទំនាក់ទំនងរដ្ឋសភា-ព្រឹទ្ធសភា និងអធិការកិច្ច
  21. ក្រសួងផែនការ
  22. ក្រសួងប្រៃសណីយ៍និងទូរគមនាគមន៍
  23. ក្រសួងសាធារណការ និងដឹកជញ្ជូន
  24. ក្រសួងសង្គមកិច្ច អតីតយុទ្ធជន និងយុវនីតិសម្បទា
  25. ក្រសួងទេសចរណ៍
  26. ក្រសួងធនធានទឹក និងឧត្តុនិយម
  27. ក្រសួងកិច្ចការនារី
  28. រដ្ឋលេខាធិការដ្ឋានអាកាសចរស៊ីវិល
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Cambodia’s PM Earns $2,500 a Month. Where Did He Get So Many Million-Dollar Watches?

Posted by: | Posted on: July 29, 2020

“Probably the richest leader on the planet who rules the poorest country in the world,” wrote one Cambodian Facebook user.
Another asked: “Should I be proud or be ashamed?”

———“Loyalty [to Hun Sen] is handsomely rewarded—the tycoons variously appear to have enjoyed immunity from the law, the rich spoils of the government’s state looting and the use of state forces to guard company operations and violently crackdown on protests against them,” the report reads.
“Hun Sen’s love for multi-million dollar luxury watches is just obscene in a country where per capita GDP is just $1,500 a year,” Andrew MacGregor Marshall, a lecturer at the Edinburgh Napier University, told VICE News.

——–“A leader like Hun Sen will not be ashamed of being seen wearing a $3,200,000 Patek watch even if it appears glaring in a poverty-stricken country because it shows his fitness to rule,” Strangio said. “The same is true with many parliamentarians from his ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CCP), a lot of them are incredibly wealthy and have remained in power for so many years because of the political system that plays to their benefit.”
“Wealth and power mutually reinforce and complement his strongman image, even if many Cambodians resent it,” he noted.

———-Indeed, shielded by Hun Sen’s power and influence, his family has engaged in a “huge network of secret deal-making and nepotism that emanates from the Hun family and underpins the Cambodian economy,” according to a Global Witness report on the Hun clan’s fortune.

———–“Hun Sen has always emphasized that he is a man of the people and compares himself to them. He’s good at speaking the rural idiom and often says he understands the hopes and desires of rural folk. But discontent is rising, with landgrabs, evictions, and job losses,” Strangio said.
“Hun Sen is growing increasingly out of touch with Cambodians because he is surrounded and in a sense, protected by layers of yes men and advisors filtering reality to him. And more young Cambodians are connecting the dots, being able to criticize the regime and system in ways their elders could not.”

Prime Minister Hun Sen promotes a carefully curated everyman image, but his wrist tells a different story. By Heather Chen Original source for your reference: The VICE, July 27, 2020, 10:43pm

As the tagline goes: “You never actually own a Patek Philippe. You merely look after it for the next generation.”

In the world of luxury, a Patek watch isn’t just a device for telling time, it’s a one-of-a-kind handcrafted heirloom that transcends generations—the cheapest model can set one back by tens of thousands of dollars, while the finest run into the millions.

The watches are the kind of status symbol at home on the wrists of billionaires, CEOs, playboy philanthropists—and, curiously, the strongman ruler of one of the world’s poorest nations.

Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia appears to be an avid Patek Philippe fan, and his love hasn’t gone unnoticed on social media, where he was called out for wearing a $1.2 million Sky Moon Tourbillon with a hand-engraved white gold bezel and blue leather strap.

“No one simply rents a Patek Philippe watch. It is a very high end brand that’s associated with big players,” said Tom Chng, founder of the Singapore Watch Club, who examined a separate post featuring Hun Sen on Instagram, and confirmed the watch featured to be another, even more expensive Patek.

“Hun Sen’s watch is no ordinary watch; it’s a rare and unique find. The high-end elements like the diamond enamel dials and handcrafted motifs combined with the level of master artistry that went into creating such a bespoke piece will definitely fetch a sky-high auction price,” Chng told VICE News. “I definitely wouldn’t see a man of Hun Sen’s status having any issue with getting his hands on a model like this.”

However, Hun Sen came from humble beginnings, and has been in either the military or public service his entire professional life, currently earning a modest official salary of about $2,500 a month. He also cultivates a carefully nurtured everyman image, disseminating images of himself hobnobbing with farmers and motorbike taxi drivers via his widely followed Facebook page.

But according to an eagle-eyed watch enthusiast blog, he has been spotted wearing watches with values totalling close to $9 million, including a rare limited edition Richard Mille Tourbillion Sapphire Dragon valued at $950,000, a model exclusive to Asia with only 55 of its kind available in the world.

“The pretense that Hun Sen earns this salary is absurd. Nobody will buy the idea that he is able to afford these million dollar watches on his salary alone,” said Sebastian Strangio, a Thailand-based political observer and author of the book Cambodia: From Pol Pot to Hun Sen and Beyond.

Indeed, the post with Hun Sen’s Patek Tourbillon caught the attention of many Cambodians and drew a flurry of critical comments, with some questioning where Hun Sen’s money came from.

“Probably the richest leader on the planet who rules the poorest country in the world,” wrote one Cambodian Facebook user.

Another asked: “Should I be proud or be ashamed?”

Both poverty and corruption remain deep-rooted in Cambodia, a Southeast Asian country where an estimated 2.8 million people live below the poverty line, and millions more hover near it. In Transparency International’s 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index, Cambodia scored an abysmal 20 out of 100, ranking 162 out of 198 countries.

Indeed, Hun Sen’s family and inner circle have “profited hugely from the system of grand corruption instituted during his reign,” according to a 2018 Global Witness report.

“Loyalty [to Hun Sen] is handsomely rewarded—the tycoons variously appear to have enjoyed immunity from the law, the rich spoils of the government’s state looting and the use of state forces to guard company operations and violently crackdown on protests against them,” the report reads.

“Hun Sen’s love for multi-million dollar luxury watches is just obscene in a country where per capita GDP is just $1,500 a year,” Andrew MacGregor Marshall, a lecturer at the Edinburgh Napier University, told VICE News.

“Even with Chinese money being pumped into Cambodia, most Cambodians survive on less than $5 a day. The prime minister and his ruling elite are amassing immense, stunning wealth and there is a clear correlation between them and other countries in the region which sees the boldness of such demagogues in their ostentatious displays of wealth and nepotism.”

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Cambodia: Joint Open Letter to Foreign Governments

Posted by: | Posted on: July 21, 2020
Cambodia: Joint Open Letter to Foreign Governments

July 21, 2020 Original source for your references: Asian Parliamentarians for Human Rights

Your excellency,

We, the undersigned 32 civil society organizations, urge the Governments of Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, India, Japan, New Zealand, Sweden, the Netherlands, the Republic of Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America to echo the European Union (EU) in its call for the respect of human rights in Cambodia. On August 12, 2020, the EU will partially suspend Cambodia’s “Everything But Arms” (EBA) tariff preferences in response to the Cambodian government’s “serious and systematic violations” of four human and labor rights conventions: the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), the International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention concerning Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize No. 87 (1948), the ILO Convention concerning the Application of the Principles of the Right to Organize and to Bargain Collectively, No. 98 (1949), and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966). 

The Cambodian government continues to crack down on civil society, independent media, and the political opposition and human rights defenders  to silence critical voices in the country. In the past three years it has adopted a series of repressive laws that unduly restrict human rights. In November 2019, the Cambodian authorities had arbitrarily detained nearly 90 people solely on the basis of the peaceful expression of their opinions or political views as well as their political affiliations. While 74 opposition members, detained on spurious charges, were released from detention in December 2019, the charges against them remain, and they risk re-arrest. Opposition leader Kem Sokha’s criminal trial for unsubstantiated treason charges has been marred by irregularities since it began in January. Sokha remains banned from politics and faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted. The Prime Minister announced that the trial could drag on into 2021. 

In April, the Cambodian government used the Covid-19 crisis to adopt an unnecessary and draconian state of emergency law that provides the authorities with broad and unfettered powers to restrict freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association – rights that have already been severely restricted during his 35 years in power. Currently, another 30 political prisoners are behind bars due to the Cambodian government’s continued onslaught on free speech in the guise of combating Covid-19.

Cambodia committed to protecting and promoting fundamental human rights, providing equal protection of the law, and holding genuine periodic elections when it ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Cambodian government ratified all of the fundamental ILO Conventions that protect the rights of workers and trade unions. Respect for human rights and the rule of law are essential for a stable and flourishing business environment over the long term. 

Cambodia agreed that access to the EU’s Everything But Arms preferential trade scheme is conditional on adherence to the principles in 15 core human rights and labor rights conventions. The European Commission’s decision on February 12, 2020 to partially suspend Cambodia’s EBA preferences followed a yearlong process of ‘enhanced engagement’ between the EU and Cambodia during which the Cambodian government was given every opportunity to cooperate and make significant progress in improving its protection of human rights and labor rights. The European Commission concluded that Cambodia had failed to take necessary measures to retain full EBA benefits. 

We agree. For example, on January 22, 2020, 23 companies and nongovernmental organizations, including major international garment brands sourcing from Cambodia, raised concerns about the labor rights situation and urged the government to amend or repeal two deeply problematic laws, the Trade Union Law and the Law on Associations and NGOs (LANGO), and drop all outstanding criminal charges against union leaders. The government’s tokenistic amendments to the repressive Trade Union Law fell considerably short of what was required to address that issue. More broadly, the government has demonstrated an unwillingness to take concrete and meaningful steps to improve the rights situation; to the contrary, Cambodia adopted further repressive laws and arrested more peaceful critics during the intensive monitoring and evaluation process. 

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