Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - US Senators call on UN to pass resolution on Cambodia’s political crackdown

US Senators call on UN to pass resolution on Cambodia’s political crackdown

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks at a UN Security Council meeting in January. Facebook
US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks at a UN Security Council meeting in January. Facebook

US Senators call on UN to pass resolution on Cambodia’s political crackdown

A group of US Senators has sent a letter to Nikki Haley, the country’s ambassador to the United Nations, urging her to work with other members of the UN Human Rights Council to pass a resolution on Cambodia’s political situation.

The bipartisan letter, dated Friday, alleged a “widespread attack” on political opposition, civil society and journalists, noting that Cambodia’s “fragile and burgeoning democracy” is in danger.

The letter was signed by Lindsey Graham, chairman of the State and Foreign Operations subcommittee, and two of his subcommittee colleagues. They were joined by Senator John McCain, a frequent critic of the Cambodian government, and four members of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, including ranking Democrat Ben Cardin.

In September, opposition leader Kem Sokha was arrested on widely decried charges of “treason”, with his party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party, subsequently dissolved in November.

“The crackdown has essentially ended the country’s nascent democratic system and cemented the rule of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party,” the letter states, going on to claim the CPP both “led the crackdown” and controls the courts. “It is now clear that barring any seismic reversal in the government’s actions, the upcoming elections this year will not be free and fair.”

The senators said they welcomed the Trump administration’s decision to cut funding to Cambodia’s National Election Committee and to impose a visa ban on certain high-ranking government officials, though they expressed “concern” that the list is “still under review”.

They then called for more action to “isolate the Cambodian government” and pressure them to reverse course, going on to say the international community should not validate the “illegitimate ‘election’” in July.

The statement called on Haley to appeal to partners within the UN, and to bring up the issue during the upcoming Human Rights Council special session in February.

“We would urge you to work with other governments to pass a strong resolution that puts the government on notice on the international stage,” they wrote.

Phay Siphan, a spokesman for the government and a newly minted member of the CPP’s central committee, said he doubted criticism from the international community of the election’s legitimacy would negatively impact Cambodia.

“There’s no such law that gives a foreign nation [the right] to consider the government not legitimate,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Rainsy will return at ‘favourable time’

    Opposition figure Sam Rainsy on Saturday suggested he would not return to Cambodia as he had previously promised, saying that like liberators King Father Norodom Sihanouk and Charles de Gaulle, he would only do so at a “favourable time”. “I will go back to Cambodia

  • Temi tourism project approved by the CDC

    The $500.4 million Tourism, Ecological, Marine and International (Temi) tourism project has been approved by the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), according to a notice on its Facebook page on Monday. The project is part of Chinese-owned Union City Development Group Co Ltd’s (

  • US Embassy urged to stop ‘disrespecting sovereignty’

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation called on the US Embassy in Phnom Penh on Saturday to respect the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations after it called former opposition leader Kem Sokha “an innocent man” – a move deemed to be “disrespecting Cambodia’s

  • NagaWorld casino sees net profit of more than $390M last year

    Phnom Penh’s NagaWorld casino posted a 53 per cent net profit increase last year at $390.6 million, a sum which is almost equal to the combined net profit of all Cambodian commercial banks in 2017. NagaWorld’s parent company, NagaCorp Ltd, is listed on the Hong Kong