Disqualification of Opposition Party Highlights Concerns of Electoral Integrity and Human Rights Violations in Cambodia
South East Asia and Pacific Researcher
Global Human Rights Defence
Last week, on Monday 15th the Candlelight Party was disqualified by Cambodia's election commission, from the election that will be held in July. Apparently, this was a consequence of submitting the wrong registration documents. The Candlelight Party represented the only opposition to the current ruling party of Prime Minister Hun Sen, the Cambodian People's Party (CPP).
Hun Sen has faced allegations and criticism for human rights violations throughout his tenure. Indeed, this specific event mirrors perfectly what happens in the past election in Cambodia: in 2017, after the opposing party leader Kem Sokha was detained on September 3, the government petitioned the Supreme Court to disband the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), which was charged with attempting to seize power with assistance from the US. As in the contemporary situation, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) was the only opposition to Hun Sen’s party.
The current violation of a meaningful right to vote must be added to the frequent threat to freedom of expression. In fact, according to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the current government is targeting journalists, civil society activists, and independent media outlets critical of the regime.
Considering that this is already the second time that Hun Sen undermines the election in Cambodia, it is hard to see a democratic future in this country.
Sources and further readings:
In Dialogue with Cambodia, Experts of the Human Rights Committee Ask about Freedom of Expression and Raise Issues Concerning COVID-19 Prevention Measures, OHCHR
CAMBODIA 2022, Amnesty international, https://www.amnesty.org/en/location/asia-and-the-pacific/south-east-asia-and-the-pacific/cambodia/report-cambodia/
Concluding observations on the second periodic report of Cambodia, United Nation Economic and Social Council, https://digitallibrary.un.org/record/794964#record-files-collapse-header