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US senators float asset restrictions for government officials

US Senator John McCain (left) confers with Senator Richard Durbin (right) after a meeting in 2013.
US Senator John McCain (left) confers with Senator Richard Durbin (right) after a meeting in 2013. AFP

US senators float asset restrictions for government officials

Two United States senators have released a draft congressional resolution proposing the inclusion of senior Cambodian government officials on a US Treasury list that could potentially see their assets frozen and prevent Americans from transacting with them.

The resolution – put forth by Senators John McCain and Dick Durbin on Tuesday, condemns the government’s recent crackdown on political opponents, civil society and media outlets, and suggests the US Treasury Department consider putting certain Cambodians on the Specially Designated Nationals list.

The list contains individuals and companies, including terrorists and narcotics traffickers, whose assets are blocked and “U.S. persons are generally prohibited from dealing with them”.

“This deliberate undermining of democracy being perpetrated by the Cambodian government must stop,” said Senator Durbin. “The world is watching.”

The resolution follows visa restrictions – unrelated to the recent crackdown – imposed on senior Foreign Ministry officials in September by the US for Cambodia’s reluctance to accept Cambodian-American felons eligible for deportation.

Ruling party spokesman Sok Eysan called the senators’ proposal racist and questioned why such a measure would be required. “They are senators, why do they do like this? They should not take revenge by taking sides with another [party].”

At the same time, CNRP Deputy President Mu Sochua, who left the country on Tuesday under threat of arrest, told Reuters the international community should consider visa restrictions on senior officials, but said economic measures that could hurt the critical garment sector were not warranted.

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