Forty-five countries have called on the government to reinstate the dissolved CNRP and all its elected members to their national and commune seats to ensure that the upcoming national election in July is free, fair and credible.
The joint statement, issued during the UN’s 37th Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva on Wednesday, said that an electoral process from which the now-dissolved CNRP was arbitrarily excluded could not be considered genuine or legitimate.
“We call on the Royal Government of Cambodia to take all measures necessary, before it is too late, to ensure that the 2018 elections are free, fair and credible,” it said.
“In particular, we urge that the elections take place in a peaceful environment without threats, arbitrary arrests or acts of intimidation,” the statement added.
The statement said that rights to freedom of expression, media, association and peaceful assembly, should be respected, protected and fulfilled.
“Further, we urge the Royal Government of Cambodia to refrain from using judicial, administrative and fiscal measures as political tools against the opposition, the media, civil society and human rights defenders,” the statement said.
Last week, Rhona Smith, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Cambodia, also called for a lift on the ban of 118 senior members of the opposition CNRP from politics so they can take part in the national election.
The statement said the government should pay attention to Ms Smith’s recommendations from her recent mission to the Kingdom.
“We urge the continued attention of the international community to the current situation in Cambodia, and we will look to further consideration by the Human Rights Council if the human rights situation does not improve in the lead up to the elections in July,” the statement said.
Ney Sam Ol, Cambodian ambassador to the United Nations, flatly dismissed the statement, saying that it breached the UN council’s practices.
“Why is this absurd idea still requested? Because Cambodia will have an election in July this year, because they want regime change, because they have their preselected candidates to win, just to name a few,” Mr Sam Ol said. “They shamelessly interfere in this country’s internal affairs right before the election.
“Therefore, Cambodia categorically dismisses this politically motivated statement, which bears ill intent against the government’s effort in maintaining law and order, in fostering peace, stability and development for its people.”
Former opposition CNRP leader Kem Sokha was jailed in September on treason charges and the party was accused of conspiring with the US to topple the government through a colour revolution.
Afterwards, the Supreme Court dissolved the CNRP and banned 118 of its senior officials from politics for five years.
Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said on his Facebook page yesterday that the statement infringed on Cambodia’s sovereignty as a UN member.
“The Cambodian court system is representing the people’s interests and Cambodia’s sovereignty and no one can abuse it,” Mr Siphan said. “So their demands to pressure Cambodian courts and the Cambodian government is to invade and abuse Cambodia.”
Mr Siphan added that Cambodia was not a satellite state and had full rights to guarantee the function of the judicial system.
“The national election will be held on July 29, 2018 and will respect and maintain the democratic process and multi-party democracy,” he said.