Phnom Penh – An E.U. Parliament official has called for the release of Kem Sokha, the jailed president of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, as a fundamental requirement of Cambodia remaining in a lucrative preferential trade scheme with Europe.
E.U. officials visited Cambodia ahead of Sunday’s general election, which saw Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party win a landslide victory, to assess its membership of the scheme. The CPP jailed Sokha in September on treason charges and banned the CNRP over allegations of a conspiracy to overthrow Hun Sen by force.
Pier Antonio Panzeri, chair of the E.U. Parliament’s human rights subcommittee, said in a statement on Monday that “recent developments in Cambodia, including the use of violence and imprisonment of opposition main party Kem Sokha, testify to a severe trend towards the weakening of democracy and political rights, and the silencing of dissenting voices in the country. I call on the Cambodian government to reverse this trend by undertaking to respect democratic principles and by releasing Kem Sokha immediately.”
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