Cambodia: European Commission announces partial withdrawal of trade concessions over human rights violations

The European Commission announced on 12 February a partial withdrawal of trade concessions to Cambodia under its preferential trade arrangement, Everything But Arms (EBA) due to ‘the serious and systematic violations of the human rights principles enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.’

Echoing the concerns raised by FIDH and its member organisations in Cambodia, Licadho and Adhoc, the Commission concluded that despite a long period of ‘enhanced dialogue’ with the Cambodian government and a full year of investigation, serious and systematic human rights violations in the country continue to take place. The EU reiterated the need for Cambodia to ‘re-open the political space, create the necessary conditions for the re-establishment of a credible opposition and initiate a democratic process of national reconciliation through genuine and inclusive dialogue. This includes the reinstatement of the political rights of the opposition members and the repeal/revision of laws, such as the Law on Political Parties and the Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organisations.

The European Commission initiated the procedure in February 2019. One year later, human rights violations continue to happen, specifically regarding the denial of political rights, restrictive actions against civil society and trade unions, and violations related to Economic Land Concessions, particularly in the sugar sector. The decision will take effect on the 12th of August 2020. In the meantime, Cambodia can submit its comments to the Commission.

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