© Reuters. File picture: Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen delivered a speech at the groundbreaking ceremony of a Japanese-donated flood control project held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on March 4, 2019. REUTERS/Samrang Pring
WASHINGTON (Reuters)-Major US senators said on Thursday that they plan to re-enact legislation to provide sanctions to freeze the assets of senior Cambodian officials who undermine democracy, participate in corruption, or otherwise violate human rights.
The bipartisan Cambodian Democracy and Human Rights Act planned by Democratic Senators Ed Markey and Dick Durbin and Republican Marco Rubio will also require the U.S. President to submit to Congress A report on China’s activities in Cambodia, assessing whether this has led to the deterioration of democracy and human rights.
A statement from Markey’s office stated that the sanctions would include the freezing of assets, and that the bill-an early version of the bill that was introduced in the previous Congress and passed in the House of Representatives-would codify the withdrawal of visa restrictions for Cambodian officials.
If the president proves that Cambodia “has made meaningful progress in ending the government’s efforts to undermine democracy, ending related human rights violations, and conducting free and fair elections,” then it will also allow the suspension of sanctions.
Maki and Rubio focused their criticism on Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has been in power for more than 35 years.
“This legislation makes it clear that the United States will not stand idly by because Hun Sen and his cronies corrupt Cambodian democracy, persecute and imprison opposition and political activists, target freedom of speech and independent media, and enrich themselves through rampant corruption,” Maji Said in the statement. statement.
Rubio called Hun Sen a “dictator” who suppressed the opposition, including Radio Free Asia. He said that Cambodia “continues to regress” after making progress in democratization in the previous decades.
In June, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman expressed concern about China’s military presence in Cambodia during his visit to Cambodia and sought clarification on the demolition of US-owned buildings.
Sherman is the most senior American official who has visited Cambodia in many years, urging him to “maintain an independent and balanced foreign policy in the best interests of the Cambodian people.”
Before that meeting, Cambodian government spokesman Phay Siphan called on Cambodia and the United States to engage in dialogue.
“The United States does not understand some problems in Cambodia, and Cambodia does not understand the intentions of the United States,” Phay Siphan told Reuters.
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