European Parliament calls for visa restrictions on Cambodian officials

The European Parliament has resolved to call on the European Commission and the European External Action Service to impose visa restrictions on selected Cambodian officials and freeze their assets in response to ongoing crackdown on the opposition and civil society in Cambodia.

The EU parliament also resolved to review human rights clauses of the Everything But Arms agreement (EBA) for temporary suspension, the Phnom Penh Post reported on Friday (Dec 15).

Under Article 19 of the EBA, the preferential agreement may be temporarily withdrawn for all or certain products and this will affect a number of Cambodian exports to the EU such as sugar and garments.

However, the resolution adopted by the European Parliament is not binding though it sends a strong signal to the commission to take action.

This is the fifth resolution on Cambodia adopted by the European Parliament in its legislative term since 2014.

“Last month, democracy and the rule of law in Cambodia received a brutal blow,” said parliamentarian Charles Tamnock, referring to the Supreme Court’s decision to dissolve the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) on Nov 16.

The commission is monitoring the situation in Cambodia and is checking whether conditions are fulfilled for a potential temporary withdrawal, said Karmenu Vella of the European Commission.

The resolution also calls on the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the commission to prepare a list of individuals responsible for the dissolution of the opposition and other serioius human rights violations with a view to imposing possible visa restrictions and assets seizure.

On Dec 6, the US State Department also issued visa restrictions on Cambodians involved in undermining democracy in Cambodia in direct response to the Cambodian government’s series of anti-democratic actions.