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Motion for a resolution - B9-0230/2022Motion for a resolution

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on the continuous crackdown of political opposition in Cambodia

3.5.2022 - (2022/2658(RSP))

with request for inclusion in the agenda for a debate on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law
pursuant to Rule 144 of the Rules of Procedure

Heidi Hautala, Francisco Guerreiro, Anna Cavazzini, Hannah Neumann, Ignazio Corrao, Jordi Solé, Alviina Alametsä
on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B9-0230/2022

Procedure : 2022/2658(RSP)
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European Parliament resolution on the continuous crackdown of political opposition in Cambodia


The European Parliament,

 having regard to its previous resolutions on Cambodia, in particular those of 9 March 2021, 13 September 2018, 14 September 2017 and 14 December 2017,

 having regard to the Council conclusions on Cambodia of 26 February 2018,

 having regard to the concluding observations on the situation of civil and political rights in Cambodia of the UN Human Rights Committee (CCPR) of 30 March 2022, following the review of the country’s third periodic report under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR),

 having regard to the previous reports and statements by the UN Special Rapporteur on Cambodia,

 having regard to the EU’s interventions in the Interactive Dialogue with the UN Special Rapporteur on Cambodia at the respective sessions of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UN HRC),

 having regard to the Commission's decision of 12 February 2020 to withdraw part of the tariff preferences granted to Cambodia under the European Union’s Everything But Arms’ (EBA) trade scheme as of 12 August 2020,

 having regard to the 1997 Cooperation Agreement between the European Community and the Kingdom of Cambodia,

 having regard to the 1991 Paris Peace Accords, in which a commitment to uphold human rights and fundamental freedoms in Cambodia, including on the part of international signatories, is enshrined in Article 15,

 having regard to the International Labour Organisation Convention on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise,

 having regard to the Cambodian Constitution, in particular Article 41 thereof, in which the rights and freedoms of expression and assembly are enshrined, Article 35 on the right to political participation and Article 80 on parliamentary immunity,

 having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 10 December 1948,

 having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966,

 having regard to the 1984 Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment,

 having regard to Rule 144 of its Rules of Procedure,


A. whereas ahead of the commune elections in June 2022 and next year’s national elections, Cambodia’s human rights situation has reached a crisis, with the government carrying out an intensified crackdown on the political opposition, journalists, independent media, and civil society under the guise of Covid-19 measures;


B. whereas human rights activists, civil society representatives and members of the opposition parties, notably of the banned Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) and of the newly re-emerged Candlelight Party, face arbitrary arrests and prosecutions as well as violent attacks by unidentified assailants, and there are numerous and serious allegations regarding extrajudicial killings, including the killing of the opposition member Sin Khon, in November 2021; whereas the authorities failed to effectively investigate these physical attacks and killings and they remain unaddressed;


C. whereas mass trials of members of the political opposition in 2020/2021 involved more than 150 person; whereas irregularities inherent in these trials included a lack of credible evidence, violation of fair trial rights and due process guarantees and several of the defendants were tried in absentia in breach of human rights guarantees;


D. whereas in November 2021 four political activists and UNHCR-recognized refugees, namely Veourn Veasna, Voeung Samnang, Lanh Thavry and Mich Heang, have been deported by Thailand to Cambodia, in violation of the non-refoulement principle, where they were immediately detained, in three of the cases on the same charges that caused them to flee Cambodia to Thailand in the first place;


E. whereas on 17 March this year a Cambodian court convicted 20 opposition politicians and activists, including two prominent exiled leaders, on vague charges of “incitement” and “conspiracy,” consigning them to lengthy prison terms;


F. whereas, according to Human Rights Watch reports, there are more than 60 people as political prisoners in Cambodia’s overcrowded prisons or in pre-trial detention, including members of the political opposition, community activists, and trade unionists;


G. whereas, while other trials were being held, the trial against Kem Sokha, who was released on restrictive bail, was postponed for almost two years despite repeated requests to resume; whereas his trial recommenced in January 2022 but with no end in sight, leaving the politician stripped of fundamental rights of political participation;


H. whereas the decision to dissolve the CNRP led to a de-facto one-party, authoritarian state; whereas the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) obtained 100 % of the contested seats in the National Assembly election held on 29 July 2018 and in the Senate election held on 25 February 2018; whereas Prime Minister Hun Sen has been ruling over Cambodia over 37 years; whereas Hun Sen recently publicly announced his intention to appoint his son, the current army commander, to succeed him;


I. whereas according to reports five Candlelight election candidates have been imprisoned during the last two months; whereas other candidates were coerced into withdrawing their candidacy to avoid spurious prosecution on charges such as plotting; whereas the government has previously used similar allegations to dismiss opposition parties and candidates, including the 2021 refusal to register the Cambodia National Heart Party, whose organiser is now the subject of an investigation by the Ministry of Interior; whereas the past weeks the CPP-controlled National Election Committee barred dozens of Candlelight candidates from running; whereas a number of rulings led to the nullification of whole candidate lists in eleven communes;


J. whereas many pieces and draft pieces of legislation in Cambodia limit the freedom of speech and political freedoms; whereas the CPP used the COVID-19 pandemic as a pretext for drafting and passing legislation that gives itself unchecked powers to restrict fundamental rights including freedom of assembly, expression, movement, and information, all in contravention to international law and Cambodia’s own constitution;


K. whereas the Cambodian authorities stepped-up online surveillance by way of both new and existing laws that threaten free expression and the right to privacy; whereas once operational, the currently delayed National Internet Gateway will enable the government to monitor all internet traffic and disconnect users’ internet connections on arbitrary grounds;


L. whereas the Commission's decided on 12 February 2020 to partially withdraw tariff preferences granted to Cambodia under the EBA trade scheme as of 12 August 2020 due to the serious and systematic violations of the human rights principles enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;


M. whereas Cambodia hosted the 13th Asia-Europe Summit and is currently ASEAN chair;


N. whereas on 2 March 2022, Cambodia voted in favour of the UN General Assembly resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine;


1. Strongly condemns the Cambodian government’s relentless and further intensifying crackdown on dissent including violence against peaceful protesters, the adoption of repressive laws, harassment and arrest of civil society activists, politicians and ordinary citizens, and the government’s violent suppression of any political competition and political participation;

2. Calls on the Cambodian authorities to initiate a process of national reconciliation through genuine and inclusive dialogue;

3. Reiterates its call on the Cambodian government to end all forms of harassment, abuse and politically motivated criminal charges against members of the political opposition, human rights defenders, trade unionists and labour rights advocates, land rights and other civil society activists, environmentalists, students, and journalists, among others; calls on the Government of Cambodia to release, without delay, all persons who have been detained for exercising their human rights, and to drop all charges in those politically motivated cases immediately, to unconditionally release those in pre-trial detention, and revoke any convictions against them; urges the government to reverse the decision to dissolve the CNRP; demands the government to reinstate more than 5000 commune officials elected in 2017;

4. Urges Cambodian authorities to immediately drop the charges against Kem Sokha;

5. Stresses that the flawed elections held in Cambodia on 29 July 2018 with the Cambodian People’s Party holding all contested seats in the National Assembly and in the Senate have cemented its one-party rule; urges the Cambodian government to repeal the amendments made to the Law on Political Parties in the run up to the 2018 elections and to allow for and reinstate opposition enabling a credible path towards pluralism and democracy;

6. Calls on the Cambodian Government to work towards democracy and the rule of law and to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, which includes fully complying with the constitutional provisions concerning pluralism and freedom of association and expression and to promote inclusive participation in political life with a view to ensuring free and fair elections during the upcoming commune election on 5 June 2022, as well as next year’s national elections, which can only be free if opposition parties are allowed to participate without restrictions;

7. Urges, the Cambodian Government to repeal the amendments to the Constitution, the Penal Code and any legislation, that is limiting freedom of speech and political freedoms in violation of Cambodia’s obligations and international standards; 

8. Reminds the Cambodian Government that pluralism and democracy can only flourish in a society in which citizens can freely express themselves online and offline and journalists can freely report on matters of public interest; is alarmed by the governments continuous  harassment of independent media outlets, the imprisonment of journalists and all decrees and draft laws for the digital space enabling the government to increase online surveillance, censorship, and control of the internet;

9. Expresses its concern about the increasing crackdown on environmental activists, including by targeting them in the previous mass trials; in this context, strongly regrets the reported acceleration of illegal logging of Cambodia’s protected forests during the pandemic and calls on the EU and the Member States to foster international coordination in order to prevent any unauthorised goods from being illegally exported from Cambodia;

10. Reiterates its continuing concern about land evictions, persisting impunity for such acts and the dire situation of the affected communities; praises the work of land rights activists who are also victims of harassment and arbitrary arrest by the Cambodian government; welcomes the positive steps regarding the engagement of the Cambodian Government with affected communities but stresses that this process is neither inclusive nor standardised and needs to be opened to all legitimate claimants in order to provide remedies that correspond appropriately to community losses;

11. Reiterates its concern about detention and criminal charges brought against NagaWorld trade union leaders and workers and measures adopted by the authorities citing public health concerns to disrupt peaceful and lawful labour action; notes the recent release on bail of 8 of the 11 union leaders, while calling on the authorities to immediately drop all political motivated charges against them;


12. Calls in light of Cambodia’s role as chair of ASEAN on the EU, Member States and the international community, to seize the opportunity to apply pressure and take public actions to provide protection for activists, human rights defenders, and support political parties’ struggle to reopen some degree of political and civic space is sustained for the upcoming commune election on 5 June 2022 and the upcoming national elections in 2023;


13. Calls in the context of the from Thailand deported Cambodian political activists on the Thai authorities to fully respect the non-refoulement principle and to allow individuals subjected to a deportation order to effectively challenge the decision before an independent and impartial body, and to suspend any deportation decision in the meantime;


14. Welcomes the indictment by a French court of two senior Cambodian generals for the grenade attack on an opposition political rally in Phnom Penh on March 30, 1997, that killed 16 people and injured more than 150; urges the issuing of a European Arrest Warrant and an Interpol Red Notice to take Gen. Huy Piseth and Gen. Hing Bun Heang into custody and produce them before the court for trial in Paris;


15. Reiterates its call for targeted sanctions and urges the Council to adopt restrictive measures, including travel bans and asset freezes, against political leaders and leaders of the security forces and their economic interests under the EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime with a view to holding accountable all persons responsible for serious human rights violations, the dissolution and subsequent repression of the opposition in Cambodia;

16. Regrets that the Cambodian government failed to meet its responsibility in overcoming serious and systematic violations of political participation, freedom of expression and freedom of association which led to the Commission's decision to withdraw part of the tariff preferences granted to Cambodia under the European Union’s Everything But Arms’ (EBA) trade scheme as of 12 August 2020; strongly regrets the further deterioration in human rights enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; urges the Commission to insist on clearly defined human rights benchmarks in all its interactions with the Cambodian government, and to include issues of concern highlighted in this resolution as part of its ongoing enhanced engagement with the authorities, including on EBA;

17. Calls on the EEAS and the Member States to monitor the human rights situation in Cambodia and act in full compliance with the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy and the EU human rights guidelines; calls on the Commission and the EEAS to assess the need for further re-orientation of EU assistance with a view to focussing it on support for civil society and opposition parties; asks the EU delegation in Phnom Penh and the embassies of the Member States to monitor trials, conduct prison visits, and offer support to civil society, opposition parties and possible protection of people at risk of persecution, including by providing safe haven at embassies, and facilitating entry for asylum or temporary refuge, including by issuing emergency visas;

18. Strongly urges EU based businesses to conduct thorough human rights and environmental due diligence, and to ensure they have no ties with political leaders and leaders of the security forces responsible for serious human rights violations and the dissolution and subsequent repression of the opposition in Cambodia, with entities owned or controlled by these leaders, and with entities benefitting from illegal logging and land grabbing; calls on EU based businesses to publicly disclose all relevant information, including the names, addresses, and ownership, on subsidiaries, suppliers and business partners in their value chain within Cambodia; warmly welcomes in this context the long awaited Commission’s Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDD) proposal obliging all major companies operating within the EU to ensure respect for human rights and the environment in their global value chains and calls on the EU to support EU based business in this endeavour;


19. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission, the Council, the European External Action Service, the governments and parliaments of EU Member States, the Government and National Assembly of the Kingdom of Cambodia, the Secretary-General of ASEAN, the governments and parliaments of the ASEAN countries, the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia, and the UN Human Rights Council.

Last updated: 3 May 2022
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