EU must demand end to crackdown on civil society, opposition

Press release

(Paris) The European Union (EU) must use the upcoming human rights dialogue with Cambodia to pressure the government to urgently cease its intensified crackdown on civil society and the political opposition, FIDH said today.

On the occasion of the EU-Cambodia human rights dialogue, which is scheduled to take place on 13 March 2018 in Brussels, FIDH released a briefing paper that details the increasingly repressive environment faced by civil society and the political opposition.

“The EU must not stand by passively while Cambodia accelerates its descent into an authoritarian one-party state. At the very least, the EU should use the dialogue to insist on the release of detained human rights defenders, journalists, activists, and opposition members, including Kem Sokha.”

Debbie Stothard, FIDH Secretary-General

The EU must also demand the Cambodian government provide answers over the latest incident of disproportionate use of force by its security forces against villagers involved in land disputes. On 8 March 2018, mixed police and military personnel in Snuol District, Kratie Province, opened fire to disperse villagers who protested the burning of their makeshift huts by local authorities. The number of casualties remains unknown, but according to eyewitnesses, at least two villagers were injured and seven others were detained. Access to independent monitors to the area remains blocked.

The deterioration of the civil and political rights situation in the country means the upcoming general election, scheduled to be held on 29 July 2018, will not be credible, inclusive, or participatory.

During the past year alone, the Cambodian government has taken extreme measures to ensure any opposing voices are silenced, including through the dissolution of the main opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), the imprisonment of its leader Kem Sokha, and the filing of criminal charges against several of its members. Other measures taken by the government include recent amendments made to the Constitution and the Criminal Code, which impose further restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression and association, the forced shut down or suspension of the operations of several NGOs, and the silencing of free, independent media.

The previous EU-Cambodia human rights dialogue was held in Phnom Penh in May 2016.

Press contacts
FIDH: Mr. Andrea Giorgetta (English) - Tel: +66886117722 (Bangkok)
FIDH: Ms. Audrey Couprie (French, English) - Tel: +33648059157 (Paris)
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