Cambodia's National Assembly [official website] unanimously approved a bill on Friday making it a crime to deny that atrocities were committed the Khmer Rouge [JURIST news archive] regime. The bill passed while minority leaders were excluded from the legislature. Critics including Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] allege [AP report] the law is merely a ploy to paint the opposition as sympathetic to the former regime. Members of the Cambodian People's Party [party website] urged that opposition legislators must relinquish their seats to contest the country's general election in July. The expulsion of the those legislators could negatively impact upcoming elections, as those candidates are no longer receiving compensation for representation.
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen [BBC profile] said last Monday that he wants to punish those people who deny that atrocities occurred during the 1970s Khmer Rouge regime, which was widely held responsible for the deaths of 1.7 million people. Hun Sen has suggested [AP report] that the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party shares the regime's philosophy by comparing their promise to cancel banking debts to the Khmer Rouge's eradication of the banking system in 1975. Opposition leader Kem Sokha also allegedly said that exhibits at the genocide museum were faked. Hun Sen's comments come ahead of the national election set for July 28, which he is expected to win in a landslide.