A spokesman for the ruling CPP said party leaders were not concerned about a decision announced last week by the International Criminal Court (ICC) that it would broaden the scope of cases it considered to include environmental destruction and land grabs.
The London-based law firm Global Diligence, which filed a case against Cambodia’s ruling elite with the ICC in 2014 at the prompting of the opposition CNRP, said in a statement last week that the decision improved the likelihood of the case moving ahead.
“For the first time in history, an international criminal court will prioritize crimes within its jurisdiction that are committed by means of or result in ‘the destruction of the environment, the illegal exploitation of natural resources, or the illegal dispossession of land,’” Global Diligence said of the decision announced by ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.
“This new focus will help close the impunity gap for international crimes committed during peacetime, and open the door for the case filed on behalf of Cambodian victims against Cambodia’s ruling elite,” it added.
The case filed with the ICC claims that Cambodian government leaders and their associates are responsible for displacing hundreds of thousands of people from their land, leaving them in abject poverty.
CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said on Sunday that the ruling party, which has also been linked to rampant deforestation over the past decade, had nothing to worry about.
“We are not worried, because we haven’t done anything wrong,” he said. “The Cambodian People’s Party is the people’s party, so we protect the interests of the people and are against anyone—no matter how big or small—who abuses the rights and interests of the people.”
Mr. Eysan added that the alleged abuses in Cambodia paled in comparison with those occurring in other countries.
“They should arrest the ones bombarding Syria, Iraq and Iran—that would be right,” he said. “That is criminal.”