Washington, D.C. – The House of Representatives today passed H. Res. 728, introduced by Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), which supports human rights, democracy, and the rule of law in Cambodia.

On the House floor prior to the vote, Chairman Royce delivered the following remarks (as prepared for delivery):

“I rise in strong support of H. Res. 728, supporting human rights, democracy, and the rule of law in Cambodia.  I want to thank my colleague, Mr. Lowenthal, for introducing this resolution, and for his tireless advocacy for the people of Cambodia.

Mr. Speaker, since Cambodia held its deeply flawed elections in 2013, we have seen significant attacks on those Cambodians peacefully opposing their government.  Hun Sen’s thuggish regime continues to crack down on his political opposition and other activists, arresting and beating those who oppose his rule.  As noted in this resolution, Freedom House’s most recent report rated Cambodia as “Not Free,” noting restrictions on – and harassment of – the government’s political opposition.

That’s putting it mildly. Last year, opposition lawmaker and American citizen Nhay Chamreoun was severely and brutally attacked by plainclothes bodyguards, who repeatedly kicked and stomped him. He was hospitalized for months.  Several months later, Kem Ley, a popular Cambodian political commentator, was murdered in broad daylight for his outspoken protests of the regime.

And just last week, Hun Sen took yet another step to consolidate his grip on power, sentencing the de facto leader of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, Kem Sokha, to five months in prison – on the spurious charge of refusing to appear for questioning in a politically motivated case that was brought against him.

Although his sentence is short, the repercussions are dire – as convicted criminals are prohibited from holding office.  With other opposition party leaders already in exile, Hun Sen continues to eliminate any that would oppose him.  Mr. Speaker, these attacks must stop.

This systematic persecution of the government’s opposition completely undermines the legitimacy of upcoming local elections, as well as the country’s 2018 national elections.  Without the full and free participation of the CNRP, future elections will be deeply flawed and cannot be accepted.  Hun Sen’s continued attack on his political opponents is something we simply cannot accept.

For the sake of the Cambodian people, I urge my colleagues to adopt this resolution.”