Four US congressmen have issued a resolution to the House of Representatives censuring the Cambodian government’s apparent political repression of dissent and “pervasive corruption.”
The resolution cites the killing of an opposition journalist last year, as well as reports from the US State Department, the United Nations and other watchdogs, as underpinnings for the resolution, which condemns “pervasive corruption of the Kingdom of Cambodia.”
Government and ruling party officials dismissed the resolution.
House Resolution 820 was introduced Oct. 8 by representatives Ed Royce, a Republican from California; Frank Wolf, a Republican from Virginia who is the co-chairman of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission; Jim Moran, a Democrat from Virginia; and Anh Josept Cao, a Republican from Louisiana.
“The Cambodian government is often complicit in the sex trade industry, and endemic corruption has exacerbated the problem of human trafficking,” the resolution says, citing a 2009 State Department trafficking report that found pervasive corruption and collusion and indirect involvement by police and judicial officials in the trade.
The resolution calls on the House of Representatives to condemn the repression of opposition candidates by the ruling Cambodian People’s Party and “calls on the Government of the Kingdom of Cambodia and international organizations to take concrete steps to combat the worsening problem of human trafficking in Cambodia.”
The resolution cites threatening tactics to curb political dissent; the killing of Khem Sambo, a journalist for Moneakseka Khmer newspaper, and his son, in July last year; Global Witness reports on an elite “kleptocracy”; reports by former Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General on Human Rights in Cambodia, Yash Gai; and testimony by Mu Sochua at the Tom Lantos commission on Sept. 10.
“This resolution shows that US Congress knows that human rights violations here are a concern for them,” said Mu Sochua, who represents the Sam Rainsy Party for Kampot province. “This is also a signal to the US government.”
(On Oct. 28 the Cambodian Appeals Court is scheduled to hold a hearing on a defamation suit brought by Prime Minister Hun Sen against Mu Sochua.)
“The Royal Government of Cambodia totally rejects this resolution, because it is partial, baseless, and based mainly on opposition sources,” Koy Kuong, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told VOA Khmer by phone.
Cheam Yiep, a veteran CPP lawmaker, called the resolution “unacceptable,” saying the congressmen should “try to understand more about rights issues in Cambodia.”