Washington (August 5, 2021) – Today, Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Marco Rubio (R-Fl.), and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) announced they will introduce the Cambodia Democracy and Human Rights Act to hold the Cambodian government accountable as Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen continues to engage in a crackdown against human rights, democratic institutions, and political opposition. Under Hun Sen’s leadership, the ruling Cambodian People’s Party has maintained one-party control of the government, in violation of the Cambodian constitution, through corruption, banning political opposition, political persecutions, repressive laws, and cracking down on free speech and the media. The primary opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) has been banned, and many of its leaders, including Khem Sokha, persecuted, jailed, or exiled.
“The Cambodian People deserve what was promised to them in the 1991 Paris Peace Agreements – a representative democracy that reflects the popular will, not oppressive single party rule,” said Senator Markey, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia. “This legislation makes clear that the United States will not stand by as Hun Sen and his cronies corrupt Cambodian democracy, persecute and jail opposition and political activists, target free speech and independent media, and enrich themselves through rampant corruption.”
“Under the authoritarian rule of dictator Hun Sen, Cambodia continues to backslide after making progress in earlier decades toward democratization,” said Senator Rubio. “I’m proud to co-lead this bipartisan effort, which seeks to hold Hun Sen accountable for his crackdown against political opponents, Radio Free Asia, among others.”
“Let's be clear – what little is left of Cambodian democracy is in serious danger. An oppressive ruler is violating Cambodia’s constitution and arresting, threatening, and harassing political opponents and peaceful activists,” said Senator Durbin. “Through the bipartisan Cambodia Democracy and Human Rights Act, my colleagues and I are standing together against Prime Minister Hun Sen's blatant human rights violations and calling for sanctions against those who undermine a better future for the Cambodian people.”
A copy of the bill text can be found HERE
The Cambodia Democracy and Human Rights Act:
- Applies asset blocking sanctions on anyone, including senior officials of the Government, military, or security forces of Cambodia, that the President determines has undermined democracy in Cambodia, engaged in significant corruption, or committed related human rights violations.
- Codifies the State Department’s existing visa restrictions for individuals engaged in such activity.
- 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.
- Requires the President to submit a report to Congress detailing activities of the Government of the People’s Republic of China and the People’s Liberation Army inside Cambodia, including through the Belt and Road Initiative, and the impact their presence has had on the deterioration of democracy and human rights inside Cambodia.
Senator Markey and former Senator Cory Gardner introduced an earlier version of this bill, the Cambodia Democracy Act, in the 116th Congress, and it passed the House of Representatives in 2019.