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International Civil society expresses grave concerns about the dissolution of main opposition party in Cambodia and the gradual closure of civic space

Image from Reuters/Samrang Pring

Cambodia – 4/12/2017– On November 16, the Supreme Court in Cambodia ruled to dissolve the main and only opposition party (the CNRP). This action was considered by many as a manoeuvre by the government to ensure its dominance in the next national elections taking place in 2018. The International Forum of NGO Platforms (IFP-FIP), a global civil society network, bringing together more than 22 thousand NGOs, with members in over 60 countries, has issued a public statement expressing its regret at what it describes as the “violation of fundamental freedoms by the Cambodian government”, and emphasizing its solidarity with Cambodian civil society.

The charges which came before the Supreme Court were politically motivated and were not impartially addressed by the Court. Several international organizations and various media have raised the fact that Judge Dith Munty, President of the Supreme Court, was an important member of the government party and close to the prime minister Mr. Hun Sen.

“Without the possibility of challenging it, this decision further contributes to the narrowing of the political space in Cambodia, leaving a society with only one political party, that of the government, and millions of citizens without a real political representation” said Magda Toma, the Director of IFP.

The International Forum of NGO Platforms believes that recent events in Cambodia only worsen the authoritarian nature of its government. “Restrictive laws for civil society, persecution of activists, lifting of the immunity of opposition parliamentarians, the closure of newspapers, radios and NGOs such as Equitable Cambodia or the National Democratic Institute, the forced or voluntary exile of political figures, and the criminalization of political freedom are all actions that reflect the tense climate at present in Cambodian society, the autocratic attitude of the government and the difficulties that civil society faces in trying to operate in these conditions”, says the IFP Director.

She points out that Cambodia has, through its Constitution, legislation, and various international instruments, voluntarily signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and expressed its intention to uphold the defense of human rights in all of its actions. For example, a 2015 document sent by the Government of Cambodia to the United Nations Human Rights Committee, states “It should be noted that the Royal Government and the Ministry of the Interior are complying with international principles as the foundation of respect for human rights and democracy, in accordance with the country’s constitution”.

Recognizing Cambodia’s responsibility towards its people and towards the international community to which it belongs, the IFP, a representative network of global civil society, restates its support for Cambodian civil society and strongly rejects these latest developments. “The international community -UN officials, signatory countries, stakeholders and sectors of civil society at large- must denounce these acts and call on the government to strive to fully maintain the founding principles of the 23 October 1991 Paris Agreements on Cambodia”, says its Director.

Miguel Santibañez, President of the IFP, speaking on behalf of all 22,000 members of the IFP, is calling on the Cambodian government “to uphold its human rights commitments, guarantee all forms of political freedom and stop its harassment of civil society actors, including human rights defenders and other activists”.

About IFP

IFP is a Global Network of 64 engaged national platforms and 6 regional coalitions which gather over 22 000 NGOs promoting transformative political, economic and social change to achieve a fair and sustainable world for all.

For further information, please contact:

Magda Toma – / + 33 634 78 05 04
Miguel Santibañez – / +569 6360 6317