Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Europe voices ‘serious concerns’ over rights

Europe voices ‘serious concerns’ over rights

George Edgar, EU ambassador to Cambodia, poses with Cambodian Ministry of Justice official Chin Malin at a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday. Facebook
George Edgar, EU ambassador to Cambodia, poses with Cambodian Ministry of Justice official Chin Malin at a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday. Facebook

Europe voices ‘serious concerns’ over rights

The European Union expressed “serious concerns” about the Cambodian political situation during a UN Human Rights Council meeting on Wednesday, drawing a sharp rebuke from the Kingdom’s delegation.

Cambodia’s ongoing political crackdown has seen the main opposition party dissolved and its leader arrested for alleged treason, as well as the shuttering of media outlets and pressure on civil society.

“The EU remains deeply concerned about the continuing deterioration of the political and human rights situation in Cambodia and the escalating repression of the opposition, civil society and the media,” said the EU representative.

“The EU reiterates that an electoral process from which the main opposition party has been arbitrarily excluded is not legitimate,” the representative continued, calling for the reinstatement of the Cambodia National Rescue Party and its elected officials.

The Cambodian Foreign Ministry and EU representatives also held a private meeting in Brussels on Wednesday, releasing a joint statement reaffirming their “commitment to deepen their relationship”.

However, in the statement the EU again expressed “serious concerns” over the political situation and went on to call for the Cambodian government to “engage in a constructive dialogue with the opposition”. The statement closed with a warning from the EU, reminding Cambodia that the preferential trade agreement Cambodia enjoys with the EU is dependent on its respect for human rights.

Dr Astrid Noren-Nilsson, a political scientist who specialises in Cambodia, said the meeting appeared to have ended in a “stalemate”, with both sides reiterating their positions but neither giving any ground.

“The EU keeps referring to the possibility of playing its trump card – suspending its EBA [Everything but Arms trade] agreement with Cambodia – but there can be no more illusions that the threat alone would make the Cambodian government budge,” Noren-Nilsson said via email.

Genoveva Hernandez Uriz, chargée d’affaires for the EU delegation to Cambodia, said the EU must take a “long-term” perspective in its approach to Cambodia. She noted the progress Cambodia has made in realms like increased public school enrolment and decreased childhood mortality rates.

“The European Commission . . . is closely monitoring the situation in Cambodia to assess compliance with the relevant human rights and labour rights Conventions and has stepped up its engagement,” she said in an emailed statement.

MOST VIEWED

  • Sihanoukville building collapse death toll rises to 19

    Minister of Interior Sar Kheng said on Sunday that the government will act against those responsible for the collapse of a seven-storey building in Sihanoukville on Saturday, which resulted in 19 dead and 24 injured as of Sunday evening. Sar Kheng said three Chinese nationals and one

  • Gov’t to probe Chinese exports to US via Sihanoukville

    The government is investigating allegations that Chinese companies are using Chinese-owned special economic zones in Cambodia to export goods to the US and avoid tariffs, said Ministry of Commerce spokesman Seang Thay. The move comes after US embassy spokesman Arend Zwartjes said the US had

  • Banh: The Khmer Rouge worse than sanctions and pressure

    Minister of National Defence Tea Banh said on Thursday that having sanctions and external pressure placed on Cambodia was not worse than life under the brutal Khmer Rouge regime. Tea Banh, who is also deputy prime minister, was speaking to military and ruling party officials

  • Funcinpec ‘set to sell their headquarters’, says source

    An anonymous source from Funcinpec said acting president Prince Norodom Chakravuth had held a meeting with other officials to discuss selling several of the party headquarters across the country while the party president Prince Norodom Ranariddh receives medical treatment at the Royal Phnom Penh Hospital