Hun Sen must take heed

In his quest for absolute control and to prolong his stay in power, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has turned the country into a de facto one-party state and prepared his eldest son for a dynastic succession. This quest has been pursued at the cost of his people’s political and civil rights.

And in light of the European Union’s (EU) announcement of the partial suspension of Cambodia’s duty- and quota-free access to its markets because of the Cambodian regime’s blatant violation of human rights, Hun Sen should be warned that his arrogance and ego may not only jeopardise the country’s economy, but also his people’s job security.

When the EU started reviewing its Everything But Arms (EBA) programme in February last year, Hun Sen was given a year to improve his government’s poor human rights record. Disappointingly, Hun Sen and his administration did practically nothing to restore Cambodians’ political and civil rights.

The EU’s EBA review took place following widespread crackdowns on the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), journalists, activists and workers in recent years.

Recognising the CNRP’s growing popularity, the Hun Sen government launched a series of legal attacks against the opposition party.

In September 2017, CNRP leader Kem Sokha was arrested and slapped with the senseless and absurd charge of treason. Two months later, the Supreme Court disbanded the CNRP on the flimsy grounds that the party was attempting to overthrow the government. The court also banned 118 of its senior members from politics for five years.

After that, a number of critical media outlets were forced to shut down and scores of journalists and activists were arrested and charged. The country’s Trade Union Law, amended just last year, also infringes on the rights of workers to form or join trade unions. Read More