Labor today met members of the Cambodian Opposition to discuss the suppression of democracy in Cambodia and the conduct of the recent election there.
Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs Senator Penny Wong was joined by Chris Bowen, Chris Hayes and Julian Hill at the meeting with Ms Monovithya Kem, daughter of Kem Sokha, the imprisoned leader of the now-disbanded Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP).
The meeting follows yesterday’s Senate vote endorsing Labor’s motion expressing serious concerns with Cambodia’s 2018 national election.
The motion noted that the election process, which has included the dissolution of the CNRP, the detention of CNRP leader Kem Sokha, and the banning of CNRP parliamentarians and officials from engaging in politics for five years, reversed more than 25 years of progress towards democracy in Cambodia.
Freedom of expression and association underpin democratic societies and Labor is concerned the election took place in an environment where not all political parties, civil society organisations and media could operate freely.
We are disappointed that the Cambodian people have been unable to freely choose their representatives.
The development of strong democratic practices and institutions — including a free press and civil society — is crucial to Cambodia’s long-term prosperity.
As a longstanding friend of Cambodia, Australia must continue to urge the Cambodian Government to take steps to allow free and open political debate and participation without violence and intimidation.
We acknowledge the work of the Australian Cambodian community for its tireless advocacy in support of human rights and democracy in Cambodia and call on the Cambodian Government to immediately release Mr Kem Sokha.
Authorised by Noah Carroll, ALP, Canberra.