The European Union has expressed its concerns about a deterioration of political and human rights in Cambodia and called for the immediate release of former opposition leader Kem Sokha, who remains jailed on treason charges.
According to an EU statement in Geneva to the United Nation’s Human Rights Council on Wednesday, the EU is concerned about the repression of the opposition, civil society and media.
“The EU reiterates its call for the immediate release of opposition leader Kem Sokha,” the statement said. “The EU reiterates its call for the swift reversal of the dissolution of the CNRP and for the reinstatement of all CNRP members of parliament and CNRP local counsellors.”
The dissolution of the CNRP was a significant step away from pluralism and democracy enshrined in Cambodia’s constitution, it said.
“The EU also expects the government to allow civil society organisations to fulfil their legitimate role,” the statement added.
The EU also said that an electoral process from which the now-dissolved CNRP was excluded was illegitimate.
Mr Sokha was charged with treason last year over comments he made in 2013 video footage from Australia-based CBN news, which showed him saying the US government had been helping him to push for regime change in Cambodia since 1993.
Afterwards, the Supreme Court dissolved the CNRP and banned 118 of its senior officials from politics for five years.
The CNRP won 55 seats out of 123 in the National Assembly when it contested the general election in 2013. The party also ran in the commune elections in June last year, wining more than 40 percent of seats.
After its dissolution, all of the CNRP’s positions were doled out to other parties.