The Foreign Affairs Ministry has expressed its deep regrets over the United States’ visa restrictions for Cambodian officials in the aftermath of legal actions against the CNRP and its leader Kem Sokha.
According to the ministry’s statement on Friday, the US’ decision did not take into consideration Cambodia’s recent political development from legal and factual standpoints. “The move was politically motivated, with prejudice and double standards,” it said.
On Wednesday, the US State Department said that it would restrict issuing visas to Cambodian officials, hindering those deemed to have been “undermining democracy” from entering the US.
This followed Cambodia’s Supreme Court’s decision last month to dissolve the oppositional CNRP and redistribute its seats in parliament among factions allied with the ruling CPP. The party’s abrogation followed the arrest of CNRP leader Kem Sokha for treason.
The ministry said that legal action against a handful of law-breaking individuals, NGOs, and media outlets should not be construed as an attempt to undermine Cambodia’s democracy. “The US’ reaction to Cambodia’s recent political development does not appear to be about democratic values, considering its different treatment toward various countries on the matter of democracy and respect for human rights.”
It added that politicians, media outlets and NGOs, included the Cambodia Center for Human Rights, that do not breach the law may continue carrying out their respective activities freely.
The issue of foreign interference into domestic affairs is as sensitive an issue in Cambodia as it is in other sovereignty states. Historical facts have proved that foreign interference often has destructive consequences – Cambodia and other nations have experienced them.
The statement read, “The US’ reaction to Cambodia’s recent political development does not appear to be about democratic values, considering its [US] different treatment of various countries regarding their practice of democracy and respect for human rights.”