Skip to main content

Cambodia: Two Years of Relentless Onslaught on Political Opposition and Civil Society

HRW Oral Statement - ID with the Special Rapporteur on Cambodia - HRC54

Supporters of online media outlet Voice of Democracy (VOD) hold placards in front of VOD office in Phnom Penh on February 13, 2023. © 2023 Suy Se/AFP via Getty Images

Mr. President,

Human Rights Watch thanks the Special Rapporteur for his report.

In the past two years, the Cambodian government has intensified its onslaught on political opposition, civil society, and the few remaining independent media outlets in the country.

In January, then-Prime Minister Hun Sen warned the political opposition not to criticize the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) ahead of the July national election. He said that if they defied the CPP-controlled courts, they would face mob violence.

In the months that followed, Human Rights Watch interviewed a number of opposition party members and government critics who were assaulted in Phnom Penh in broad daylight. Attacks followed a pattern in which helmet-wearing assailants on motorbikes used the same extendable metal batons to bludgeon their victims. Police failed to seriously investigate these attacks or arrest any perpetrators.

These violent assaults, the shuttering of the Voice of Democracy and other independent media outlets, and the blocking of the main opposition Candlelight Party under a bureaucratic pretext from fielding candidates, resulted in a national election exercise that cannot even be considered to be an election.  

The response from governments long concerned about the human rights crisis in Cambodia has been weak.

We would like to ask the Special Rapporteur how international stakeholders should use the benchmarks he has presented to press Prime Minister Hun Manet’s government to reverse the diminishing space for rights and democracy in Cambodia?   

Thank you.

Your tax deductible gift can help stop human rights violations and save lives around the world.

Region / Country