“The dissolution of Cambodia’s opposition party marks a tragedy not only for Cambodia, but for all of those countries that have worked for decades to help rebuild the country from the devastation of the Khmer Rouge genocide. Billions of aid dollars have been spent on supporting Cambodians to develop a democratic system that respects the rule of law and basic human rights. Today’s news suggests that that project has failed. The country is descending into outright dictatorship” said Emma Burnett of Global Witness.
Global Witness has spent over 20 years campaigning for an end to the corruption that has undermined Cambodia’s democracy, human rights and the benefits of its economic growth. Senior government officials, their relatives and cronies have abused their positions of power to seize land from those who live on it and loot the country’s natural wealth, including its timber and mineral reserves. This has concentrated immense wealth and power in the hands of a small elite, while much of the population still struggle to feed their families. Over 800,000 people have been affected by evictions to make way for big business.
“What we’re seeing today are the actions of a regime that’s desperate to cling on to its power and wealth at any cost,” said Burnett. “The Cambodian people desperately need the intervention of the international community. Foreign governments must demand that the decision to dissolve the opposition is overturned, that elections next year are free and fair, and that the corrupt are held to account. If these conditions are not met, they should apply targeted sanctions against Prime Minister Hun Sen and his regime that will prevent them from travelling and spending any ill-gotten gains overseas.”
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