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IPU condemns court decision to ban opposition party in Cambodia

Cambodia’s Supreme Court has dissolved the opposition CNRP and imprisoned the party's leader Mr. Kem Sokha. ©Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP

The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) strongly condemns the ruling by Cambodia's Supreme Court to dissolve the country’s main opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), and to ban 118 senior CNRP members from political life for five years, including 53 out of the 66 CNRP parliamentarians.  The decision is based on recent amendments to the Law on Political Parties which are at odds with the right to freedom of association and the right to take part in the conduct of public affairs under the Cambodian Constitution and international law.

Yesterday’s ruling takes place against the background of an increasingly widespread crackdown on all forms of opposition and criticism of the government in the lead-up to the 2018 national elections. Authorities also recently amended laws to enable them to redistribute the parliamentary and local seats currently held by CNRP members to other political parties. 

Many opposition politicians have been prosecuted and harassed, in particular the party's leader Mr. Kem Sokha who was imprisoned in early September. A host of opposition parliamentarians have reportedly fled the country as a result of the authorities’ recent actions against the CNRP.

The IPU calls again on the Cambodian government to uphold the rule of law, and adhere to the principle of liberal multi-party democracy provided for in the country's Constitution.  The Cambodian authorities’ actions threaten the foundation of Cambodia's democracy and jeopardize the legitimacy of the 2018 elections.

The IPU urges the Cambodian authorities to stop violating the fundamental rights of opposition members of parliament. It reiterates its recent call for the immediate release of all detained CNRP members, including Mr. Sokha, and an end to their ongoing harassment.

It is of paramount importance that every Cambodian, including those currently in exile, be able and be allowed to participate freely in political activities including in the upcoming elections. 

The IPU's Universal Declaration on Democracy, adopted by the Members, including Cambodia, in September 1997, sets out the core elements of democracy, including free and fair elections, respect for human rights and the rule of law, gender equality, freedom of expression and the need for strong parliaments. The Organization calls upon the Cambodian authorities to respect the principles and values as enshrined in the Declaration.

More information on the IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians.

Latest decisions taken by the IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians during the 137th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

Video testimony of Ms. Mu Sochua, Vice President of the CNRP and member of the National Assembly, at the 137th IPU Assembly

The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) is the global organization of national parliaments. It works to safeguard peace and drives positive democratic change through political dialogue and concrete action.

For further information, please contact

Paddy Torsney
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