foreign-policy

Holding the Cambodian Government Accountable to Democracy

Democracy in Cambodia is backsliding. The flawed elections of July 2013 led to severe restrictions on freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and freedom of speech.

Nineteen governments, including the U.S., signed the Paris Peace Agreements on October 23, 1991, following the defeat of the Khmer Rouge, a brutal Communist political regime that killed an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians. The signatories of the Agreements promised to hold Cambodia accountable if the state of democracy was under threat. Signatories of the Paris Peace Agreements were supposed to ensure “the right to self-determination of the Cambodian people through free and fair elections” and “assur[e] protection of human rights.”

New developments have jeopardized democracy in Cambodia. Kem Sokha and Sam Rainsy, leaders of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), are effectively silenced, human rights lawyers and advocates are extrajudicially imprisoned, and freedom of speech and freedom of assembly are severely restricted. The Paris Peace Agreements signatories should hold the government of Cambodia accountable for turning from democracy to authoritarianism.

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