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March 27, 2024

Mr. Prach Chan

Mr. Tep Nytha
General Secretary

National Election Committee
NE Building, National Assembly Street
Sangkat Tonle Basac, Khan Chamkar Mon
Phnom Penh, Cambodia

RE: Alleged Intimidation and Vote Buying in February 25, 2024 Senate Election

Dear Chairman Prach Chan and General Secretary Tep Nytha,

I am writing on behalf of Human Rights Watch to inquire about reports from opposition politicians about intimidation and threats, as well as offers of financial bribes and other inducements, from government officials to not support opposition candidates prior to the February 25, 2024 Senate elections.

Human Rights Watch is a nongovernmental international human rights organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights violations in over 100 countries around the world. We have been reporting on Cambodia for more than three decades.

Human Rights Watch interviewed elected commune officials and party officers from the Candlelight Party (CLP), Khmer Will Party, and National Power Party who said that authorities offered financial inducements, gifts such as motorbikes and cellphones, and promises of political support contrary to Cambodian election law, to opposition commune councilors willing to skip the Senate election or to vote for candidates from the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP). Commune councilors also described how they faced harassment and intimidation, including threats against them and their families.

Human Rights Watch is concerned that these reports suggest an organized effort by local and provincial government officials to deter CLP commune councilors from voting for non-CPP candidates.

In a February 15, 2024 statement, the National Election Committee said that article 71 of the Law on the Election of Members of the National Assembly applied in the Election of Members of the Senate, which states that “All political parties, candidates or supporters shall not threaten, intimidate and entice anyone to affix thumbprints, swear or promise to vote for any political party,” and that the committee will take legal action against “illegal actions.”

We would appreciate your specific responses to the following questions by April 3, 2024, so that your perspective can be reflected in our reporting:

  1. How has the National Election Committee addressed, or intends to address, allegations of intimidation, threats, and bribery in connection to the Senate election?

We would also like to bring to your attention a report from January 22, 2024 in VOA News, in which CLP Secretary General Ly Sothearayuth said that the CLP is struggling to replace its commune councilors who had died, resigned, or moved to support the ruling CPP, and that requests to the minister of interior were still not processed after more than five or six months.

Based on the Law on the Election of Commune/Sangkat Councils at article 39, and the Law on Administrative Management of Communes/Sangkats at article 14, we are concerned that the Ministry of Interior’s failure to process requests by political parties to change commune councilor electors subverts the legal process for managing commune councilor lists under Cambodian law.

  1. What is the National Election Committee doing to address long delayed requests by political parties to change commune councilors at the request of their political parties?

During the National Television of Cambodia (TVK) segment by the National Election Committee on February 11, 2024, the face of opposition leader Rong Chhun was blurred in every instance he appeared for no apparent reason. None of the other parties faced such tampering with the broadcast of their campaign videos.

  1. Was the National Election Committee responsible for blurring Rong Chhun’s face? Why was this done?

Please send your response to Audrey Gregg, Asia Associate at Human Rights Watch by April 3, 2024. Please also direct to Audrey any questions you might have about this request.

Thank you for your consideration of this important matter. We look forward to hearing from you.



Elaine Pearson
Asia Director
Human Rights Watch

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