U.S. lawmakers on Monday called for the United States to take concrete action against the Cambodian administration for violating the Paris Peace Agreement, even as Congress considers legislation to impose further sanctions.
The comments were made at an event marking the October 23, 1991, signing of the historic peace agreement that saw Cambodia come under the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia to transition the country into a democracy and an end to civil strife involving four factions.
U.S lawmakers, Cambodian diaspora groups and opposition members attended the event, where Congressman Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) said economic benefits given to Cambodia were incumbent on preservation and respect for democratic values.
The U.S. provides Cambodian travel goods tariff free exports to American markets under the Generalized System of Preferences. Also, the European Union allows for tariff- and quota-free exports to the economic bloc under the “Everything But Arms” scheme, which is now under investigation and review.
“United States as a signatory to the agreement needs to step up…if Cambodia does not take steps to secure democracy,” said Congressman Lowenthal.
The United States has taken no public steps so far to review Cambodia’s GSP access, but the House of Representatives has passed the Cambodia Democracy Act 2019, which looks to sanction senior members of the Hun Sen government. The draft legislation in currently in the Senate.
Congressman Steve Chabot (R-OH) said Hun Sen was mocking the Paris Peace Agreement and steps were needed to correct the Cambodian government’s actions.
“[B]oth Republicans and Democrats are committed to do everything within our power to make sure that one day, and hopefully in the very near future, Cambodia will once again be free” he said at the event.
At the same time, Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday morning questioned the importance of the peace accords, saying the adoption of a constitution meant there was no need for the Paris Peace Agreement.
“The story now is to respect the constitution because there is no UNTAC anymore,” said Hun Sen in Phnom Penh.