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US House adopts law to target Cambodia

The resolution awaits Senate approval to force Cambodia to allow dissent and free elections

Riyaz ul Khaliq   | 16.07.2019
US House adopts law to target Cambodia


The U.S. House of Representatives on Monday approved a legislation that seeks actions against Cambodian officials, responsible for undermining democracy and violating human rights in the Southeast Asian nation.

The legislation, known as “HR 526 Cambodia Democracy Act”, now has to go to the Senate and awaits the seal of President Donald Trump, to enter into the statute book, the Phnom Penh Post, a daily English-language newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Introduced in the House by Republican representative Ted Yoho on January 11, the proposed law allows two major sets of actions, to be taken against high-ranking Cambodian officials.

The bill aims at promoting "free and fair elections, political freedoms and human rights in Cambodia.”

It has cited seven findings that calls for U.S. actions against Cambodian officials.

These included: "The undemocratic rule of Prime Minister Hun Sen, the enactment of the NGO law, restrictions on the media, the arrest of Kem Sokha and the dissolution of [the Cambodia National Rescue Party] CNRP, six unfair and unfree elections since 1991 and doubtful  2018 elections.”

The opposition leader Kem Sokha who served as the president of the CNPR, was jailed more than a year. He was released on bail last year in September, but was subsequently placed under house arrest.

The U.S. legislation calls for his release and also the reinstatement of the dissolved CNRP and restoration of its seats in the parliament.

Cambodia, a constitutional monarchy with a population of over 16 million, operates as a parliamentary democracy. The Prime Minister of Cambodia, Hun Sen, who is in office since 1985, is the head of government. His government is regularly accused of ignoring human rights and suppressing political dissent. The successive elections under him have been disputed by the opposition.

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