Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Europe to discuss Kem Sokha’s detention

Europe to discuss Kem Sokha’s detention

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) leader Kem Sokha sit in his house before the arrest.

Europe to discuss Kem Sokha’s detention

The European Parliament is set to hold urgent debates on selected human rights, democracy and rule of law topics on Thursday in Strasbourg, France, a briefing released by the body said last week.

Discussion on Cambodia will centre on the imprisonment of court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) leader Kem Sokha.

Sokha has been behind bars on treason charges since his arrest in September last year. The Supreme Court denied his fifth bail request last month.

Many Western countries and international human rights organisations have demanded Sokha’s release, calling his arrest arbitrary.

The EU is considering ending Cambodia’s access to its Everything But Arms (EBA) trade preference scheme – allowing the Kingdom tariff-free exports to the 28-nation bloc – and has called for the reinstatement of the outlawed CNRP.

Moreover, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) will hold its 39th regular session from September 10-28, with human rights in Cambodia to be debated on September 26, according to its tentative agenda.

Several human rights violation cases from various countries will be highlighted during the meetings, followed by the issuance of a non-legislative resolution on the same day.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said, irrespective of what the results debates are, Cambodia will not obey anyone as it is an independent state and EBA would eventually end at some point anyway.

“Cambodia is an independent state. We don’t obey anyone that tries to rule the Kingdom other than its elected leaders. We know that the EBA’s continuity will be based on the country’s economic growth. First, [EBA] would be phased out, then the implementation of a lower tax would remain,” he said.

CNRP deputy leader Mu Sochua said on Saturday that she expects a strong stance from the EU and the UNHRC.

“The death of democracy in Cambodia remains high on the EU and UNHRC agenda. And there will be a strong call for the immediate and unconditional release of Sokha,” she said.

The deputy Asia Director at Human Rights Watch Phil Robertson said Cambodia is facing a rough road over the next month as the European Parliament and UNHRC are likely to issue resolutions and joint statements, and carry out interventions that will hit Phnom Penh’s “human rights abusing record and the recent sham election which was neither genuine, free nor fair”.

“The [European Parliament] is also likely to pass a hard-hitting resolution that will significantly impact the European Commission’s decision to start the formal review to take away Cambodia’s trade benefits under the ‘Everything But Arms’ scheme.

“Efforts to issue a resolution against Cambodia are also afoot at the Human Rights Council,” he claimed.

He claimed that diplomats in Brussels and Geneva did not believe Cambodia’s claim of a colour revolution.

“In fact, when Cambodian diplomatic representatives brought up that pathetic storyline, diplomats in both Brussels and Geneva just shook their heads and laughed in disbelief,” he said.

He also claimed that the criticism expected in the coming weeks will be down to problems of Prime Minister Hun Sen and his ruling Cambodian People’s Party’s own making.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hong Kong firm done buying Coke Cambodia

    Swire Coca-Cola Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Swire Pacific Ltd, on November 25 announced that it had completed the acquisition of The Coca-Cola Co’s bottling business in Cambodia, as part of its ambitions to expand into the Southeast Asian market. Swire Coca-Cola affirmed

  • Cambodia's Bokator now officially in World Heritage List

    UNESCO has officially inscribed Cambodia’s “Kun Lbokator”, commonly known as Bokator, on the World Heritage List, according to Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona in her brief report to Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of November 29. Her report, which was

  • NagaWorld union leader arrested at airport after Australia trip

    Chhim Sithar, head of the Labour Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees at NagaWorld integrated casino resort, was arrested on November 26 at Phnom Penh International Airport and placed in pre-trial detention after returning from a 12-day trip to Australia. Phnom Penh Municipal Court Investigating Judge

  • Sub-Decree approves $30M for mine clearance

    The Cambodian government established the ‘Mine-Free Cambodia 2025 Foundation’, and released an initial budget of $30 million. Based on the progress of the foundation in 2023, 2024 and 2025, more funds will be added from the national budget and other sources. In a sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen

  • Two senior GDP officials defect to CPP

    Two senior officials of the Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) have asked to join the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), after apparently failing to forge a political alliance in the run-up to the 2023 general election. Yang Saing Koma, chairman of the GDP board, and Lek Sothear,

  • Cambodia's poverty cut in half from 2009 to 2019: World Bank report

    A report published by the World Bank on November 28 states that Cambodia’s national poverty rate fell by almost half between 2009 and 2019, but the Covid-19 pandemic recently reversed some of the poverty reduction progress. Cambodia’s poverty rate dropped from 33.8 to 17.8 per cent over the 10