The German government yesterday confirmed it has suspended preferential visa treatment for private travel by members of the Cambodian government, including Prime Minister Hun Sen and his family, following the dissolution of the opposition CNRP.
The CNRP was dissolved by the Supreme Court on November 16, in the wake of former opposition leader Kem Sokha’s arrest on treason charges.
“The German government suspended preferential visa treatment for private travel by Cambodian government members including Prime Minister Hun Sen and his family, by high-ranking military officials and the presidents of the highest Cambodian court on a bilateral level,” an official source in Germany’s Foreign Ministry told Khmer Times.
He said the suspension was in reaction to the intensifying repression against Cambodia’s political opposition and the press, particularly the politically motivated dissolution of the main opposition party in November.
“The German government encouraged Germany’s EU-partners to impose similar measures,” the official said.
The United States and the EU have already cut off funding for July’s national election, placed visa restrictions on government officials, and frozen assets in response to the dissolution of the CNRP.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Chum Sounry said the German government informed Cambodia on Wednesday that it was suspending preferential visa treatment for officials.
“It clarified that such suspension does not have the same effect as a general visa restriction,” Mr Sounry said.
“While the ministry can respect the sovereign decision of the German government, we regret that such measures were taken without due consideration of Cambodia’s political realities and in total disregard of the legal and judicial independence of the country.”
The United States and EU have cut off funding for July’s national election and placed visa restrictions on government officials.
“The ministry considers Germany’s reaction to Cambodia’s recent political developments as hypocritical and a double standard, considering its different treatment towards various countries on the similar issue of democracy and respect for human rights,” he added.
Sok Eysan, spokesman for the ruling CPP, said government officials do not care that Germany suspended their visas.
“We don’t want to visit Germany. It’s very cold there,” Mr Eysan said. “We won’t die if they deny us visas.”
He added Hungry had recently said it wouldn’t take part in EU pressure, joining Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Bulgaria.
“We are not worried at all. Since 1979 we have been pressured, but we are still alive from eating rice and now you see a lot of development,” he said.