Cambodia defends its human rights records in latest response to EU

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen met with High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini in October 2018

The 30-page report details the achievement of the government’s efforts in ensuring the democratic space and freedom of expression.


PHNOM PENH--The Cambodian government has submitted to the European Commission (EC) a report in which it strongly defends its records on human rights and democracy, a spokesman said Friday. 


Ket Sophann, the spokesman of Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the 30-page report details the achievement of the government’s efforts in ensuring the democratic space and freedom of expression for the country’s citizens and civil society group. 


Marked as “Note to the File,” the report is seen as the latest attempt by the government to prevent the withdrawal by the European Union of the “Everything But Arms (EBA)” trade preferential scheme. The EBA has allowed Cambodia to export goods to the EU free of tariff.  


“The government’s stance [in the report to EC] is that the EBA review is very unjust,” Ket Sophann told Thmey Thmey.


The European Commission ended its first monitoring visit to Cambodia on August 12.  The EC and Cambodia now have three months to deliberate the issues being raised in the report. This period will be followed by another three months in which the EC will be making the final decision to submit to the EU (EU’s parliament to decide whether or not to remove the EBA scheme from Cambodia.


The European Commission has demanded that the Cambodian government drop charges against opposition politicians and restore full democracy and respect of human rights and freedom of expression for the country’s citizens. 


Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, said it is time for the government to restore democracy, human rights and labor rights in order to protect the EBA status. 


“We have noticed that the government’s response is not yet adequate. We have seen that government has issued some regulations in response to the EU’s demand but the implementation of those regulations is still weak,” he said. 


Early this week, the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) also released a statement expressing concerns about the potential impact of the withdrawal of EBA from Cambodia. It said the livelihoods of 750,000 Cambodian workers and their families will be at stake if the EU follows through with its threat. 


“GMAC again wishes to appeal to the EU legislators and officials and all interested stakeholders in the EU that a suspension of EBA benefits for our sector will result in large job losses across the garment, footwear and travel goods labour force and would not serve the EBA programme objective of poverty eradication and sustainable development,” the group’s statement said. 


“It would also be a sad and regrettable outcome for GMAC and its workforce, which has done so much to advance the role of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in monitoring labour compliance, not only in Cambodia but in our sector in other countries in the world,”it added.



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