(New York) – Cambodia’s government-controlled Supreme Court on November 16, 2017, dissolved the main opposition party and imposed political bans of five years on 118 of its members, Human Rights Watch said today.
“Hun Sen’s actions to remove the main opposition party and its members is a naked power grab, canceling the votes of millions of Cambodians in previous elections and rendering next year’s national elections meaningless,” said Brad Adams, Asia director. “Democracy died in Cambodia today and it’s hard to see it reviving so long as Hun Sen, in power for 32 years, remains as prime minister. This is a watershed moment, requiring a strong and concerted international response. It’s time for action, not words.”
The court ruling should lead to quick action by Cambodia’s donors and trade partners to impose targeted sanctions, including asset freezes and travel bans, on Prime Minister Hun Sen and senior members of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) and armed forces.
The removal of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) means there will be no significant opposition party to challenge the CPP in 2018 national elections.
The European Union, Japan, and other donors should immediately suspend all financial and technical election assistance for the 2018 elections unless the CNRP is fully reinstated and permitted to compete.