The Cambodian National Assembly has expressed disappointment over the European Union Parliament’s manifestation of the Kingdom’s alleged repression of the opposition.
Members of the EU Parliament (MEPs) had called for free and fair elections in Cambodia’s July National Election and that all political parties be allowed to carry out an equal, free and transparent electoral campaign under a more inclusive and transparent National Election Committee.
The MEPs claimed Cambodia was infringing on human rights and urged the UN Human Rights Council to adopt targeted sanctions.
In their resolution passed late Thursday, the MEPs urged the European Commission to define human rights benchmarks for its ongoing enhanced engagement with Cambodian authorities and to provide assistance to Cambodia’s civil society and human rights defenders.
In response, the Cambodian National Assembly expressed regret over the EU Parliament’s lack of respect for Cambodia’s rights.
“We reject the (EU Parliament) resolution, which in essence is a flagrant violation of the sovereign right of a member State of the United Nations,” the National Assembly said in a statement on Saturday.
The statement said Cambodia categorically rejects the allegations and that the country’s stance and actions “conforms to the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia and all the prevailing national laws and regulations, particularly the civil and criminal codes”.
The National Assembly believed that the resolution was the work of some of the left-wing groups of the European Parliament and condemned them for political abuses and interference in Cambodia’s internal affairs.
“This action ignores the efforts of smaller and weaker states to uphold the values of democracy, justice and the rule of law that Cambodia has firmly adhered to.
“We have observed that the European Parliament, especially left-wing group politicians, have been vocal in taking the foreign affairs of other countries into politics despite sacrificing peace, stability, social harmony and economic progress of that countries,” the statement said.
“Cambodia still values the friendship and cooperation with the European Union, which has contributed to the strengthening of the comprehensive strategic partnership between ASEAN and the European Union, which is built on the pillars of equal partnership and equal sovereignty,” it added.
“Cambodia urges all European Parliamentarians from all walks of life to work for a frank and open dialogue with Cambodia based on the principles of mutual respect, trust, understanding and mutual benefit with each other.”
“Although this repression is unacceptable, we remain grateful to Europe for supporting Cambodia’s development, especially in the fight against the Covid-19 epidemic and post-economic recovery from Covid-19 epidemic,” the National Assembly statement said.
The EU Parliament resolution on Cambodia was adopted by 496 in favour, 11 against and 36 abstentions during its sitting in Strasbourg on Thursday.
The MEPs resolution called for the immediate and unconditional release of opposition leader Kem Sokha as well as all opposition activists convicted or held in custody on politically motivated charges.
“Calls for the coordinated use of available political avenues including the further suspension of Cambodia’s ‘Everything But Arms (EBA)’ status, if the 2023 elections deviate from international standards or violations of human rights continue,” the resolution said.
The resolution also called for Voice of Democracy (VOD) to be reinstated immediately.
Kin Phea, director-general of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said the trial of Kem Sokha is a procedural process under the judiciary of Cambodia, which is a democracy.
“The decision of the European Parliament seems to be politically motivated. The actions show EU considers itself to be a guardian to give orders to Cambodia according to their preferences.”
“It is a good time for Cambodia to strengthen itself to withstand the removal of the EBA (Everything But Arms) status.
“I think Cambodia is close to move out of being a less developed country, so the EBA will not be able to last for many years and we need to prepare ourselves,” Phea added.
On August 12, 2020, some of Cambodia’s typical export products (20%) such as garments, footwear and travel goods became subject to the European Union’s customs duties.
The EU’s decision to partially withdraw Cambodia’s duty-free quota-free access to the EU market came into effect on that date.
Source : Khmer Times