Madame President, Commissioner, Colleagues,
The European Parliament adopted an urgency resolution on Cambodia in September this year. However, the human rights situation is further deteriorating with an increasing number of political opposition members and human rights activists being arrested. Therefore, the European Parliament is again discussing the situation in Cambodia and notably the banning of the opposition.
The dissolution of the Cambodia National Rescue Party and the worsening climate for opposition politicians raises serious concerns, as well as the strong influence of China in the political life of Cambodia, which is playing an important role in political decisions in the country.
We welcome the EU decision to withdraw all electoral assistance until Cambodia engages in reforms, in line with international electoral standards, in order to advance democracy and protect civil society space. It is important to underline that respect for fundamental human rights is a prerequisite for Cambodia to continue to benefit from the EU’s preferential Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme. If Cambodia is acting in violation of its obligations under the EBA regulation, the tariff preferences it currently enjoys must be temporarily withdrawn.
We urge the Cambodian Government to reverse the decision to dissolve the opposition party, restore the elected members of the parliament and commune council to their position, and to allow the full participation of opposition parties in public life. In case of failing to guarantee political and social rights in the country, further steps in the form of sanctions might be taken by the European Union, such as an introduction of a list of individuals responsible for the dissolution of the opposition and other serious human rights violations in Cambodia, with a view to impose possible visa restrictions and asset freezes against them.
Finally, I call on High Representative Madame Mogherini and the EU Special Representative for Human Rights to use all means available to protect the fundamental rights of the Cambodian people to elect and be elected, to guarantee pluralism and democratic principles strictly in line with Cambodia’s Constitution.