US Senate urges sanctions against Cambodia government

US Senate urges sanctions against Cambodia government

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee [official website] on Wednesday announced legislation [S.Res. 279, text] proposing restrictions on senior Cambodian government officials. The legislation identifies several ways in which the Cambodian government “continues to be undemocratically dominated” by the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) [party website, in Khmer] and Prime Minister Hun Sen [BBC profile], including the passage of laws allowing the government to revoke the charters of non-governmental organizations on a political basis, the jailing of prominent opposition leader Kem Sokha on treason charges [NYT report], the imposition of severe media restrictions and the assassination of a frequent Hun Sen critic, activist Kem Ley, in 2016.

The Senate committee called on the State Department and the Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) [official websites] “to consider placing all senior Cambodian government officials implicated in the abuses noted above on the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list.” In general, US persons are prohibited from doing business with any person or entity designated as an SDN [official materials].

The legislation also calls on the Cambodian government to “to end all harassment and intimidation of Cambodia’s opposition and foster an environment where democracy can thrive and flourish” and support “electoral reform efforts in Cambodia and free and fair elections in 2018.”