EU Debates Imposing Sanctions on Cambodia

The European Union’s elected body has called for considering sanctions against Cambo­dia if opposition lawmaker Cheam Chan­ny is not released and parliamentary immunity for three opposition lawmakers is not re­stored.

In a motion passed March 10, the European Parliament urged member states “to consider im­pos­ing appropriate sanctions if the National Assembly and the government of Cambodia do not re­verse their recent ac­tions.”

The motion also encouraged the EU to send a delegation to Cam­bo­dia to “evaluate the country’s po­litical situation” and the government’s “attempts to si­lence opposition in Cambodia.”

Opposition lawmakers Sam Rain­sy, Cheam Channy and Chea Poch were stripped of their im­mu­nity in a controversial National As­sembly vote on Feb 3.

Cheam Channy was arrested that day and accused of forming an il­legal armed force. The op­po­si­tion maintains it was merely a watch­dog group overseeing RCAF activities.

Cheam Channy remains de­tained in military prison.

Opposition lawmaker Son Chhay commended the Euro­pe­an Parliament for what he says has been the strongest statement yet from the international community.

“The messages coming out from the US and others has not been strong enough,” he said Sun­day. “This is very strong. It will make the government careful.”

While Son Chhay said he was not in favor of sanctions, he said the international community should re-evaluate how it donates aid money.

“All donor countries must re­con­sider how money goes to the country,” he said, adding he ex­pects Sam Rainsy to return to the country in early April following a tour of Asia.

Meanwhile, Son Chhay said he hoped Funcinpec and National As­sembly President Prince N­or­o­dom Ranariddh would ask Prime Minister Hun Sen for Cheam Chan­ny’s release on bail, as the op­position lawmaker had re­quested during a meeting with the prince on Friday.

Military Court Judge Pork Porn said Sunday that the issue of whether to release Cheam Chan­ny would be decided during an Appeals Court hearing March 21.

Mao Sophearith, Cheam Chan­ny’s lawyer, said he has sent several requests to the military court and the Cambodian Bar As­so­ci­ation asking for the case to be trans­ferred from military to mu­ni­ci­pal court but had not yet re­ceived a reply.

Requests that Cheam Channy be allowed to read newspapers and listen to the radio were rejected in an informal reply from Pork Porn.

Pork Porn said he was not in a position to give Cheam Channy access to either.

“It would hinder my investigation,” he said.


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