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30 Nov 2020

Niem Chheng, The Phnom Penh Post

Cambodia: European Commission officials raise concerns about human rights violations & judicial harassment against civil society & opposition members; govt. claim the actions are legal

"Gov’t brushes off EU’s concerns on rights", 30 November 2020

The European Commission again raised concerns about the arrests of opposition activists, the trials of former opposition leader Kem Sokha and union leader Rong Chhun, and the EU’s partial withdrawal of the “Everything But Arms” trade scheme in a meeting ...

In response, Cambodian officials insisted all arrests were made with legal basis.

The concerns were raised during a three-day meeting between Cambodia and the European Commission … to review and discuss all areas of bilateral cooperation, a meeting that is held every two years…

“The topics of discussion related to democracy, human rights, rule of law, legal enforcement, and good governance. The EU Commission has raised their concerns over the legal enforcement by Cambodia on opposition activists, the case of Kem Sokha, Rong Chhun, and…

“But all of these are nothing new. They have been raised in the past and there are still concerns these are a violation of human rights, repression, and restriction of freedom and political rights.

… analyst Lao Mong Hay said there seems to be no lessening of the government’s repressive measures against Sokha, opposition activists and civil society groups since the EU’s EBA withdrawal.

On the contrary, he said, judging from recent statements by Prime Minister Hun Sen and other top civilian and military leaders, those measures have become systematic instead.

“After the latest talks with the EU it is possible the government might postpone or dismiss the trial of the 130 or so opposition activists who were recently put on trial,” he said.