Freedom House Condemns Ouster of Cambodian Opposition Leaders from Parliament
Freedom House strongly condemns the Cambodian People Party’s (CPP) decision to expel 27 members of the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) from parliament. The National Assembly’s decision to strip opposition members of their parliamentarian status and salary is yet another blatant attempt by the CPP to stifle dissent in the lead-up to national elections on July 28.
On June 5, the National Assembly’s permanent committee — exclusively comprised of CPP members—dismissed members of the newly-formed CNRP from parliament on a legal technicality that prohibits parliamentarians from being a member of more than one political party at a time. The ousted parliamentarians were initially elected as representatives of the Human Rights Party and the Sam Rainsy Party, but those two groups merged in July 2012 to form the CNRP. CPP spokespeople have indicated that they also intend to use this clause to prevent opposition candidates from contesting the upcoming elections.
The National Assembly’s decision is the latest in a series of efforts by Cambodia’s Prime Minister and CPP Leader Hun Sen to eviscerate any semblance of a viable political opposition in the country. In the last month alone, Hun Sen has publicly declared victory in the upcoming elections, passed a draconian new law criminalizing any denial of the Khmer Rouge genocide, and authorized security forces to clamp down on peaceful protesters with water cannons. In addition to depriving the Cambodian people of their voice in parliament, these actions further shrink the already declining space for civil society and undermine the fundamental right to free expression, association, and assembly.
Cambodia is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2013 and Freedom of the Press 2013.
Freedom in the World 2013: Cambodia
Freedom of the Press 2012: Cambodia
Countries at the Crossroads 2012: Cambodia
Blog: Freedom at Issue