Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Ed Markey (D-MA), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy, introduced S. 3081, the Cambodia Democracy Act, in response to the deteriorating human rights and democracy situation in Cambodia. 


Human Rights Watch found “The ruling Cambodian People’s Party maintains power through violence, politically motivated prosecutions, repressive laws, and corruption. Prime Minister Hun Sen, in power since 1985, oversees one-party rule in the National Assembly since government-controlled courts dissolved the main opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, detained opposition leader Kem Sokha, and banned more than 100 opposition members from politics in the lead up to sham elections in July 2018. The government has also intensified its crackdown on independent media, local human rights defenders, and land rights activists. Rights to free expression and peaceful assembly are sharply curtailed, and there is no accountability for serious abuses.”


“The United States cannot stand idly by as a dictatorship entrenches in Cambodia and corrosive Chinese influence takes hold,” said Senator Gardner. “The Cambodia Democracy Act will hold those intent on destroying Cambodia’s democratic progress accountable and send a clear message that the United States will always stand in defense of those seeking freedom and justice around the world.” 


“Those who have perpetrated grave human rights abuses or undermined democracy in Cambodia should lose access to the U.S. financial system. The Hun Sen government must know that the world is watching as it cracks down on civil society, opposition leaders, and journalists, including former employees of Radio Free Asia. The Cambodian people have a right to democracy, rule of law, and the opportunity to deliver on the promise of the Paris Peace Agreements of a generation ago,” said Senator Markey.


The Gardner-Markey Asia Reassurance Initiative Act of 2018, enacted into law in December 2018, imposed conditions upon U.S. assistance to the Government of Cambodia related to democracy and regional security.


S. 3081, The Cambodia Democracy Act, is companion legislation to H.R. 526, which passed in the House of Representatives by voice vote on July 15, 2019.


The Cambodia Democracy Act:

  • Applies asset blocking sanctions to senior officials of the Government, military, or security forces of Cambodia that the President determines have undermined democracy in Cambodia or committed related human rights violations.
  • Codifies the State Department’s existing visa restrictions for these individuals.
  • Requires the President to transmit to Congress a list of the sanctioned individuals, and the President may waive sanctions upon a certification that such waiver is in the national interest of the United States.
  • Sanctions may be suspended for up to one year, and renewed for one-year periods, upon the President’s certification to Congress that Cambodia is making meaningful progress towards ending government efforts to undermine democracy, ending related human rights violations, and conducting free and fair elections.