On 16 November 2017 the Cambodia Supreme Court ruled to dissolve the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), the country’s main opposition party, meaning that Prime Minister Hun Sen will run virtually uncontested in the 2018 election. The court affirmed the Government’s case that the CNRP had conspired with foreigners for the purposes of staging a revolution.
“The BWI condemns the Supreme Court’s unjust decision, and expresses its deep concern for the future of Cambodian democracy”, said BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson. “This decision violates the rights of Cambodian people to freely choose their elected political representatives, and raises serious questions around the independence of the judiciary.”
The BWI and its Cambodian affiliate the Building and Wood Workers’ Trade Union Federation of Cambodia (BWTUC) have been active in the struggle to deepen Cambodian democracy. We have actively campaigned against the draconian Trade Union Law 2016, which is designed to increase Government control of the trade union movement and restrict the advancement of workers’ rights and their quality of life.
Unfortunately, this anti-democratic streak has broadened. The Supreme Court decision was made possible due to recent amendments to the Law on Political Parties that have deepened the ruling party’s political control. The September 2017 arrest of CNRP leader Kem Sokha, and the forced closure of the Cambodia Daily, one of Cambodia’s last independent newspapers, indicate a clear pattern of increasing autocracy.
“Until recently Cambodia had made significant social progress, however these recent actions have imperilled the democratic process,” said Yuson. “There will be an economic impact to these actions, and workers will likely be the most affected. We stand in support of the Cambodian people in their struggle for democracy.”
The BWI is calling on the international community to put pressure on the Cambodian Government to fulfil its international obligations to maintain democratic institutions and fundamental human rights.