US Senate Criticizes Gov’t Over Human Rights Violations

The US Senate has called on the government to “cease and desist” its attacks on human rights and de­mo­cracy in Cambodia, and urg­ed the international community to hold the government accountable for its actions.

Referring to the prosecution of op­­position lawmakers Sam Rainsy and Cheam Channy, as well as the re­cent rash of defamation lawsuits filed against activists, senators adop­ted a resolution on Jan 25 de­mand­ing that the government re­lease all political prisoners and drop all politically motivated charges.

“In recent months, we have had cause for alarm that the government of Cambodia is engaged in a campaign of political persecution and in­timidation,” US Senate Ma­jority Lead­er Bill Frist said, according to a copy of the resolution re­ceiv­­ed on Friday.

“The Senate stands unified in calling upon Prime Minister [Hun] Sen and the government of Cam­bo­­dia to immediately cease and de­sist from its systematic campaign to un­der­mine democracy, the rule of law and human rights,” Frist added.

Noting that Cambodia has re­ceiv­ed billions of dollars of foreign aid, senators also urged international don­ors and other organizations to hold the premier and government “fully accountable for actions that un­dermine the investment of in­­ter­national donors.”

Senators also asked that King Nor­­odom Sihamoni “play a more act­­ive and constructive role in protecting the constitutional rights of all Cambodian citizens,” according to the resolution.

Cheam Yeap, chair of the Na­tion­al Assembly’s finance and banking commission, dismissed the resolution.

“The US Senate should investigate the truth in Cambodia,” he said Sunday, adding that the democratic process has not been damag­ed, as evi­denced by the country’s vi­brant civil society.

“The international community should offer justice to Prime Minis­ter Hun Sen and not act according to those who are dissatisfied with the government,” Cheam Yeap said.

Royal Palace officials could not be reached for comment.

Lawyer Som Chandina, who is rep­resenting Sam Rainsy, said on Friday that he sent the prime minister a letter asking him to drop the charges against the exiled opposition leader. Sam Rainsy was sentenced in absentia last month to 18 months in prison for defamation.

Government spokesman and In­formation Minister Khieu Kan­ha­rith said Hun Sen has already told his lawyer to “consider the case ac­cord­ing to the law.”


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