CAMBODIA MUST REMEDY ITS DETERIORATING DEMOCRACY
Seoul, Korea – The Asia Democracy Network (ADN) welcomes the series of release of a few political prisoners who have been detained by the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) in the recent years. Land rights and human rights defender, Tep Vany was released on 20 Aug 2018 after being unjustly imprisoned for almost two years. Meanwhile on August 21st, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court also freed on bail two former Radio Free Asia reporters, Oun Chhin and Yeang Sothearin who were jailed on espionage charges last year. The release can ease tensions between the RGC and human rights activists in the midst of the continuing shrinking of civic space in the country. However, more needs to be done to get democracy back on track in the country.
The ADN further calls on the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) to release all political prisoners including Kem-Sokha, the leader of the Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP), as well as other political activists. Their arbitrary detention was clearly politically motivated to prevent the CNRP from participating in the last skewed elections as they were showing strong numbers in the pre-elections surveys. There is no reason for their continued imprisonment.
We demand for democracy restoration. “Besides releasing the prisoners, Hun Sen should immediately revoke undemocratic laws that are being used to suppress freedom of expression and peoples’ participation in the political process. Civil society and the media must have space to carry out their work in order to ensure the conditions for a return to a healthy democracy. The RGC must not forget that the state has the obligation to respect international human rights principles. Democracy and human rights must be restored to prevent the collapse of Cambodia into total authoritarian rule” said Ichal Supriadi, Secretary-General of the Asia Democracy Network.
ADN calls on the international community to keep vigilant watch of the progress of democracy and human rights in Cambodia. ADN also calls on governments and international institutions to take concrete action condemning the compromise of democracy in Cambodia. Cambodia’s authorities must be held accountable to their human rights responsibility under its international human rights commitment as indicated in the 1991 Paris Peace Accords on Cambodia signed by international stakeholders under the co-chairship of the French Republic and the Republic of Indonesia.
This is a critical juncture for the Hun Sen regime as there are limited options for the country, either restore democracy or move toward absolute authoritarian rule which will inevitably ensure stronger resistance from its own people and also trigger unnecessary international sanctions that could result to further suffering of the Cambodian people.
ADN is committed to and will work with governments and civil society to restore democracy in Cambodia.
Asia Democracy Network