Committee: Politics Have Not Improved

The post-election environment was more peaceful in 2003 than after the 1998 election, but im­punity, excessive influence by political parties and lack of attention to constituents’ concerns still abounds, the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia reported Wednesday.

From October 2003 to April 2004, Comfrel found evidence of 17 political killings and 15 threats against political activists, said Yong Kim Eng, Khmer Youth Associa­tion director and a member of the committee.

Those cases include the high-profile slayings of pro-Funcinpec Ta Prohm radio journalist Chuor Chetharith and Free Trade Union leader Chea Vichea, as well as the shooting of popular singer Touch Srey Nich. “For those allegedly political killings, [authorities] cannot find the perpetrators yet, so impunity still exists, the same as it did in 1998,” Yong Kim Eng said.

Also in that time period, only 46 of 123 elected parliamentarians had any contact with their constituents, Comfrel Director Koul Panha said.

Sam Rainsy Party lawmakers were more active with their constituents than were lawmakers from the CPP or Funcinpec, he said, adding that opposition lawmakers submitted at least 30 formal letters to the government addressing constituents’ concerns.

The ongoing political deadlock has thwarted the efficacy of the National Assembly, Yong Kim Eng said. According to Article 82 of the Constitution, the Assembly should hold its first session no later than 60 days after the election. The Assembly has not held a working session since May 2003.

“The impossibility of the proper functioning of the National As­sem­bly is caused by the influence of the political parties,” Yong Kim Eng said.

Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said Wednesday that the killings mentioned by Comfrel represented no threat to national security, and denied that impunity still exists in Cambodia. “Even Prime Minister Hun Sen’s nephew we arrested, so there is no impunity in Cam­bodia—only [during] the

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