The National Assembly of the Kingdom of Cambodia has issued a statement rejecting a recent resolution of the EU Parliament against Cambodia.

The National Assembly of the Kingdom of Cambodia took note with utter dismay of the European Parliament’s Resolution on the continuous crackdown of political opposition in Cambodia”. adopted on 5 May 2022 (2022/2658(RSP)), and categorically rejects the Resolution on the following grounds.

1. Under the UN Charter, all states regardless of size and political systems have equal sovereignty and right to self-determination, which shall not be violated. Moreover, the 1976 Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) prohibits the interference into the internal affairs of ASEAN member states. Cambodia as an independent and sovereign state is fully within its rights to manage its state affairs to protect its core national interests in line with the national and international laws.

2. The European Parliament’s Resolution of 5 May 2022 is misleading, biased, politicised, one-sided, and totally disrespectful of a sovereign state. This Resolution as well as those issued in the past on Cambodia have deliberately ignored the progress in human rights and democratic reforms in the country. They have relied solely on dubious sources of information from the leftist and populist politicians, extremist political activists and anti-government human rights organisations, most of whom have never visited Cambodia nor exchanged any communication with the Cambodian government.

3. The Resolution narrowly defines democracy and human rights as acceptable only when there is the participation of a few former leftist and populist party leaders or when a court ruled dissolved political party is restored. It totally disregards Cambodia’s national law and democratic principles that do not grant special privileges for any individual or political party who has broken Cambodian laws.

4. The European Parliament’s grievance over the single-party rule is also unwarranted. The Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) was elected democratically and constitutionally by the people of Cambodia. Despite the call for an electoral boycott by some groups in the 2018 national election, the turnout rate was 83.02%, with 77% of them voting for the CPP because of their trust in the CPP’s ability to enhance peace, political stability, and socio-economic development.

5. Many measures were introduced to ensure a free, fair, orderly, peaceful, and transparent communal election in June, and the National Election Committee, with the technical support from many development partners and civil society organisations, is working to ensure that a conducive electoral environment is in place as well as to provide a level playing field for all registered political parties, in line with the principles of electoral. democracy and political pluralism. As guaranteed by the Cambodia’s Law on Political Parties, the selection and nomination of any member of a registered political party to contest in the elections is the legitimate and sovereign rights, complete freedom, and full discretion of the party. Essentially, the nomination of H.E. Hun Manet as a future prime minister candidate to stand in national elections was made unanimously in a democratic voting within the party, in accordance with the prevailing laws of the nation.

6. The Cambodia’s Law on Political Parties has been amended to pave the way for the court banned politicians to return to politics. As a result, at least 32 of them have their political rights reinstated, and some of them have formed six new political parties to contest in the elections. Other former officials of the leftist and populist party were unfortunately reluctant to seek reinstatement due to the branding as “traitors” by the former leadership of their party.

7. In the case of Mr. Kem Sokha, his trial has always been transparent and participatory. In the wake of the improved situation of the COVID-19 pandemic in Cambodia, the hearings were resumed on 19 January 2022. The speed of the hearings on his conspiracy charges to overthrow the government is at the court’s discretion. We wish to underline that the issue of conspiracy with foreign countries to overthrow a legitimate government is not tolerated under the law of any country, including in countries of the European Union.

8. Cambodia is fully committed to protecting and promoting human rights and democracy under the Constitution, within the rule of law, and in accordance with the social, historical, and cultural context of the country. Cambodia remains steadfast in its engagement to enhance democracy and political pluralism to ensure that a long-lasting peace, security and stability for the country.

9. The exercise of the freedoms of expression, association, and peaceful assembly come with responsibilities and limitations as provided by national laws and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the EU should refrain from applying a double standard when it comes to transparency and accountability. Assigning blame on the Cambodia’s Law on Associations and Non-governmental Organisations for introducing the principles of transparency and accountability on funding and activities of the foreign-funded NGOs is a good example of double standard and hypocrisy. As a small country, Cambodia is home to more than 2,000 digital and traditional media outlets, including those critical of the Cambodian government, as well as to nearly 6.000 trade unions and some 6,000 registered NGOs.

10. The European Parliament should instead focus on addressing issues often disguised as a form of freedom of expression from certain leftist and populist political groups, which can trigger social instability and division, and incite people to violence such as fake news, hate speech, slander, and racism.

11. The National Assembly of the Kingdom of Cambodia urges the European Parliament to view Cambodia’s human rights and democracy objectively, taking into account our national and historical contexts, and to refrain from its usual practice of double standards.

12. We call for genuine cooperation without any hidden agenda from the European Parliament to work with Cambodia to strengthen multilateralism in order to tackle common challenges facing the world such as climate change, pandemic, transboundary crimes, and food insecurity as well as to promote people-to-people ties, inclusive and green growth and sustainable development.

13. Cambodia stands ready to work with the European Parliament to enhance Cambodia-EU relations and to strengthen the ASEAN-EU strategic partnership under the principles of equal sovereignty and independence and on the basis of mutual respect, mutual trust, mutual understanding, and mutual interest for peace and prosperity for humanity.”

Source: Agency Kampuchea Press

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