Reps. Lowenthal and Salmon Introduce Resolution Calling For Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia

May 11, 2016
Press Release

Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) and Congressman Matt Salmon (AZ-05) today introduced a House resolution calling for human rights, democracy, and the rule of law in Cambodia.

"The Cambodian national elections in 2017 and 2018 will be crucial to determining the future of the country as well as its standing in the international community," Congressman Lowenthal said. "This resolution demonstrates the United States' support for an environment that respects political opposition, human rights, and the rule of law.  All of these are necessary preconditions to holding elections in Cambodia that can be considered free and fair."

"I am deeply concerned with the signs of deterioration of Cambodia's democracy and human rights," Congressman Salmon said. "In the run-up to its elections, I urge the Cambodian government to respect the rights of all its people, end politically-motivated persecution and create an environment for a free, fair and credible election."

The resolution also condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia and urges the cessation of ongoing human rights violations by the Cambodian government; calls on the Cambodian government to respect freedom of the press and the rights of its citizens to freely assemble, protest, and speak out against the government; supports electoral reform efforts in Cambodia and free and fair elections in 2018 monitored by international observers; and urges Prime Minister Hun Sen and the Cambodian People's Party to end all harassment and intimidation of Cambodia's opposition,  to drop all politically-motivated charges against opposition lawmakers, to allow them to return to Cambodia and freely participate in the political process,  and to foster an environment where democracy can thrive and flourish.

In addition, the resolution details numerous recent civil and human rights violations committed by the Cambodian government against its people.

Cambodia has been controlled by the same Prime Minister for over 30 years.  While the Cambodia National Rescue Party, the country's main opposition, made historic gains in the 2013 election, opposition party members face continual harassment by security forces and the Cambodian government.  The government of Hun Sen has acted to restrict not only the political opposition, but civil society, nongovernmental organizations, and independent media.

Since the 2013 elections, opposition parliamentarians have been expelled from parliament, harassed by the government, and even attacked in the streets of Phnom Penh.  Congress has previously highlighted the lack of democratic development in Cambodia by making certain 2014 foreign aid funds conditioned upon democratic progress in Cambodia.

The resolution is cosponsored by House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) Chairman Ed Royce (CA-39), HFAC Ranking Member Eliot Engel (NY-16), Congresswoman Niki Tsongas (MA-03), and Congressman Steve Chabot (OH-01), who along with Congressman Lowenthal, is a founding member and co-chair of the Congressional Cambodian Caucus.