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

  • School reopening to be postponed until November

    Minister of Education Hang Chuon Naron on Tuesday wrote to Prime Minister Hun Sen requesting a delay of school reopening across the Kingdom until November, when the new academic year begins. In his letter, Chuon Naron said the postponement is warranted to avoid the new

  • Foreigners in Kingdom must now register in FPCS system

    The Ministry of Interior’s General Department of Immigration (GDI) announced that it would not grant visa extensions to foreigners staying in Cambodia if their names are not listed on the Foreigners Present in Cambodia System (FPCS) by July 1. Foreign nationals can register in the

  • Covid-19 at ‘alarming rate’, health ministry says

    The Covid-19 risk level for individual transmission is at an “alarming rate” in the Kingdom and its probability is “not low”, warned Health Ministry spokesperson Or Vandine. “Cambodia’s coronavirus scenario is classified as being at an early stage of the pandemic because of ongoing

  • Mandatory quarantine for 30,000 workers begins

    Some of the roughly 30,000 workers from factories and enterprises across the Kingdom who went on leave during Khmer New Year began their government-imposed 14-day quarantine on Monday. Speaking at a press conference while visiting workers at the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone on Monday, Ministry

  • Unemployed to get $40 per month

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training has instructed enterprises, business owners and travel agencies in five provinces to prepare the proper forms for the suspension of employment contracts. This, it said, will make it easier for the ministry to transfer $40 a month to workers

  • Gov’t travel ban flouted

    While the majority of Cambodians have paid heed to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s order to stay put and not travel during the Khmer New Year – the holidays of which were also postponed – several hundred have left Phnom Penh nonetheless. They have allegedly breached provincial

  • G20 energy ministers struggle to finalise oil output cuts

    Top oil producers struggled to finalise production cuts during a virtual summit held by Group of 20 (G20) energy ministers on Friday, despite US President Donald Trump’s mediation efforts to end a standoff with Mexico. The final G20 communique appeared to gloss over simmering divisions

  • Kingdom revises travel restriction order

    The government on Friday eased the district and provincial border restrictions issued on Thursday. People are now allowed to cross districts within their provinces. Phnom Penh and Kandal province are to be treated as a single region where people are allowed to travel freely. In

  • Private schools struggling

    The Cambodian Higher Education Association has claimed that 113 private educational establishments are facing bankruptcy because of their inability to pay rent and staff salaries in light of nationwide school closures caused by the Covid-19 outbreak. It said the financial trouble started when the Ministry of