Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Sanctions bill introduced in US

Sanctions bill introduced in US

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Congressman Ted Yoho and his wife, Carolyn, in 2013. charles norfleet/afp

Sanctions bill introduced in US

US Congressman Ted Yoho, Republican representative for the state of Florida and chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, has introduced the Cambodia Democracy Act of 2018, which if passed would impose financial sanctions and travel bans on certain Cambodian officials, a threat shrugged off by senior ruling party officials.

In a statement released on Thursday, Yoho said the aim of the legislation was to help Cambodians, who “are starving for democracy” in “their pursuit of democracy”, by stopping Prime Minister Hun Sen and his government’s “undermining of democracy”.

“Hun Sen has used violence, threats, and sham prosecutions to attack the peaceful opposition. In 2017, the regime-controlled Parliament and Supreme Court dismantled the Cambodia National Rescue Party and banned its elected officials from office, eliminating the country’s only viable opposition party,” his statement read.

“The Cambodia Democracy Act of 2018,” he continued, “will push back against the Hun Sen regime’s undermining of democracy and related human rights abuses by applying financial sanctions to the figures who carry out this despicable agenda and codifying the Administration’s existing visa restrictions for these individuals.”

Kem Sokha, former leader of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, was arrested and jailed last year on “treason” charges, and the party was dissolved by the Supreme Court shortly thereafter, despite appeals from the international community urging the Cambodian government to permit it to run in the upcoming national elections.

Sok Eysan, spokesman of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, said the bill proposed by the US congressman would not put pressure on the Cambodian government, and raised doubts about the US lawmaker’s influence as a member of the lower house of US Congress.

“[Yoho] just has an initiative and it needs to go through several procedures and he has nothing yet in front of the US House of Representatives or in the Senate,” Eysan said. “He can’t simply decide as he wants. On top of that, some things that he has said are not true, such as his claim that the government uses the court to oppress the opposition or its former officials – it’s just not the truth,” adding that the dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party was indeed guilty of trying to orchestrate a coup against the government.

Paul Chambers, of Naresuan University in Thailand, said that while the government’s actions were “simply to ensure CPP electoral victory in July”, sanctions would probably result in unintended consequences.

“To punish Cambodia with sanctions because of human rights violations there will simply push Hun Sen closer to China,” Chambers said, referring to Hun Sen’s tilt away from Western countries in recent years.

Ou Chanrath, a former CNRP lawmaker, said that Yoho’s mere introduction of the bill would be a welcome development.

“Though [the US Congress has] not yet voted on the bill, what they have done already has been heard around the world, and it will have an effect on the reputation of the country,” Chanrath said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Over $3M in traffic fines collected in two months

    Traffic police officers collected over $3 million in fines throughout the Kingdom during the past two months when officers strictly enforced the law in accordance with a May sub-decree, officials said. As incentives, law enforcement officers received between 200,000 and two million riel ($50 to $500) each. The figures

  • More than 10,000 workers suspended

    More than 10,000 workers at 18 factories in Svay Rieng province have been suspended because of Covid-19, said provincial deputy governor Ros Pharith. Home to 11 special economic zones, Pharith said Svay Rieng has not been spared as the pandemic takes a toll on the global economy. “There

  • Oz lauds Kingdom’s passage of money laundering laws

    In a press release published by the Australian embassy in Phnom Penh on Monday, the country applauded Cambodia’s stance on transnational crimes as well as its promulgation of an anti-money laundering law and a law on combating proliferation financing. The praise came after King

  • Lotus face masks designed to cover globe

    A French designer in Cambodia has produced ecological face masks from lotus fibre to supply local and international markets with an eye on preserving ancestral techniques and supporting Cambodian women in rural communities. During a trip to Asia, Awen Delaval, an eco-friendly fashion designer, was

  • Accused not treated equally, says CCHR

    The Cambodia Centre for Human Rights (CCHR) has urged the Court of Appeal to do more to ensure that an accused’s right to a fair trial is fully respected. In a bulletin released on Monday, the CCHR said it had monitored 273 cases at the

  • Planning ministry hands out cash to 420,000 poor families in Kingdom

    The Ministry of Planning has identified 20,000 more poor families in the country, bringing the total to over 580,000, while over 420,000 of them have received the government’s cash assistance. In the meantime, many social security cards from families not deemed to be poor have been revoked.

  • Investors’ $14.4M projects approved

    New investments from local and foreign sources continue to pour into Cambodia despite the Covid-19 pandemic remaining a lingering threat to regional and global economies. This comes as the Kingdom’s gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to contract between one and 2.9 per cent this

  • NagaWorld casinos set to reopen, schools to follow

    NAGACORP Ltd has requested that it be allowed to reopen its NagaWorld integrated resorts in Phnom Penh after the government recently approved casinos to operate again, provided they follow Covid-19 prevention measures set by the Ministry of Health. Mey Vann, the director-general of the Ministry

  • Rubber exports stretch 17%

    Cambodia exported 97,175 tonnes of natural rubber in the first five months of this year, surging 17 per cent compared to the same period last year as the Covid-19 pandemic stretches on, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries official Khuong Phalla told The Post on Thursday. Phalla,

  • ASEM supports Kingdom’s proposal to postpone meeting amid Covid

    The 13th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM13) scheduled to be held in Cambodia in November has been postponed until mid-2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation press statement released on Saturday said. The decision was made during a two-day meeting