US Senator Patrick Leahy’s office confirmed yesterday that bipartisan legislation is being drafted to introduce new sanctions against the Cambodian government.
“Senator Leahy and others here are increasingly concerned with the actions of [Prime Minister] Hun Sen and the Cambodian People’s Party, supported by the Chinese government, to dismantle the institutions of democracy in Cambodia which the United States and other countries have spent years helping to build,” Leahy’s foreign policy aide, Tim Rieser, said via email.
Rieser said the US has been left with “few options other than to increase sanctions”.
The main opposition, the Cambodia National Rescue Party, was controversially dissolved in the run-up to this year’s elections, with its president arrested on widely decried “treason” charges.
In response, the US cut funding to the National Election Committee and declared visa sanctions against top Cambodian government officials.
The legislation would “make clear that there is an international cost to suppressing the rights of the Cambodian people”, Rieser added, although he did not specify what sanctions would be imposed or who was drafting the legislation.
Government spokesmen could not be reached yesterday.
Last week, a group of US lawmakers urged US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley to introduce a resolution condemning the crackdown at the upcoming Human Rights Council meet.