Removal of Sam Rainsy from the Cambodian National Assembly

Press Statement
Mark C. Toner
Deputy Department Spokesperson
Washington, DC
November 16, 2015

We are deeply concerned by today’s removal of Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) leader Sam Rainsy from the National Assembly in a unilateral move by the ruling Cambodian People’s Party. His removal is another step backwards for Cambodia’s progress towards a free and democratic society. We call on the National Assembly to reinstate Mr. Rainsy immediately and to restore his parliamentary immunity. We also call on the government to revoke the arrest warrant issued against him on seven-year-old defamation charges and to allow him and other opposition Parliamentarians to return to Cambodia without fear of arrest or persecution.

Today’s actions are the latest incidents of harassment and intimidation targeting Cambodia’s opposition, including the recent violent attacks on Members of Parliament and the removal of opposition party deputy leader Kem Sokha from his position as First Vice President of the National Assembly. The Cambodian people will vote in provincial elections in 2017 and in a national election in 2018. Recent elections in the region show that people want freer, more democratic societies, and we expect that the Cambodian people will reward leaders who create a more open, inclusive political climate.

We urge the government to take immediate steps to guarantee a political space free from threats or intimidation in Cambodia, and for the government and opposition to engage in serious and meaningful dialogue on actions to strengthen Cambodia’s democratic future.