The European Union’s response to the Cambodian Supreme Court dissolving the CNRP and prosecuting its president, Kem Sokha, for “treason” should be announced next week.
Speaking at the EU press briefing on Human Rights in Cambodia on Friday, EU ambassador George Edgar reconfirmed that the EU is still concerned over Cambodia’s seeming step away from democracy.
When asked if EU aid, e.g. for the National Election Committee or trade agreements, will be affected by those actions, Mr. Edgar said that he is waiting for the results of the EU Commission meeting. They are expected to be released in next few days.
Recently, several unions sent petitions to ambassadors from the EU and the US asking that sanctions against the country be avoided – to protect the livelihoods of Cambodian workers. They fear that the US could waive preferential treatment for Cambodian exports under its Generalized System of Preferences and the EU could do the same for privileges provided through its Everything But Arms initiative.
Mr Edgar said, “That decision [abandon EBA] requires launching an investigation, and that step has not been taken.”
He explained that even though there have been changes in the political landscape in last few months, the human rights situation has made remarkable progress in regards to education, health care and violence against women. “So I just want to be clear in pointing out that an issue that causes concern and speculation does not characterize the whole political picture.”
As to the CNRP’s dissolution, and shutting down media outlets, Mr. Edgar said that he approves of law enforcement, and everyone must respect the laws of that country in which they operate – included paying taxes. “The problem with the events of the last few months is that they are perceived as enforcing the law selectively,” to target organizations which opposed and criticized the ruling government.
So far, the government has maintained that the actions against the CNRP and media outlets are in accordance with the law, and that the dissolution of the CNRP does not mean Cambodia has become a single-party state.