The European Parliament’s (EP) resolution on mass trials against the opposition and civil society in Cambodia has had no impact on the country’s judicial system, Cambodian National Assembly (NA) and ruling party officials said.
NA spokesperson Leng Peng Long said on March 14 that the EP decision would not affect Cambodian courts as even the legislative body has no power over the judiciary.
“It is the court that made the decision based on legal procedures and solid evidence. So, the parliament cannot do anything as it is the sovereign decision of the court. It is at the discretion of the judges. We don’t have any right to interfere in their affairs,” Peng Long said.
The EP on March 11 adopted a resolution on the mass trials of civil society officials and former leaders of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), in particular the recent sentences of former CNRP president Sam Rainsy to 25 years and others from 20 to 23 years – for what the government called a failed coup attempt.
The EP raised many points in their resolution, including calling on the EU to reject Cambodia as the host for the Asia-Europe Meeting Summit scheduled for later this year, unless democracy is restored.
“[The EP] calls on member states to suspend all bilateral financial support to the [Cambodian] government and instead focus on civil society organisations and opposition parties,” the resolution said.
It also called on the European External Action Service (EEAS) and member states to take urgent action to lead efforts at the forthcoming 48th session of the UN Human Rights Council towards the adoption of a strong resolution addressing human rights in Cambodia.
The EU delegation in Phnom Penh and the embassies of the member states were asked to monitor trials and conduct prison visits. They also called on the government to take the necessary measures to ensure that the dissolution of the CNRP be swiftly reversed and its 5,007 local councillors reinstated.
Cambodian People’s Party spokesperson Sok Eysan said the EP is not the head of a colonial power trying to colonise Cambodia. He said the EP’s unilateral decision was conducted in such a manner that is against the UN Charter.
“The decision of the European Parliament won’t force Cambodia to follow it. This ineffective resolution is just as likely to devaluate themselves. Positioning themselves as a colonial organisation on other countries is out-of-date behaviour in the 21st century,” he said.
A source with knowledge of the European system who asked not to be named said the EP resolution only has an impact if the European Commission takes a decision based on that resolution.