Cambodia. In January, for the first time elections were held for the Cambodian Senate, the upper house of Parliament. Only just over 11,300 people from the country’s local parishes and the lower house of Parliament, however, had the right to vote. According to CountryAAH, major public holidays in Cambodia include Independence Day (November 9) and New Year (January 1). Prime Minister Hun Sens’s ruling party CPP (Cambodian People’s Party) won big and took home 45 of the 57 selectable seats. The royalist party FUNCINPEL won ten seats, while opposition party Sam Rainsy’s party secured the two remaining seats.
Opposition leader Sam Rainsy – in exile since February 2005 – criticized the election in harsh terms and demanded that the election commission, which he believed consisted solely of CPP-faithful persons, should be replaced. In February, Sam Rainsy returned to his homeland from his exile in France. In December 2005, he had been sentenced in his absence to 1.5 years in prison for having blamed Prime Minister Hun Sen, among others. Rainsy was able to return after being pardoned by the country’s King Norodom Sihamoni at the request of Hun Sen. In recent times, laws against defamation and slander had been used extensively by the government to silence eg. opposition politicians, union leaders and independent media workers. However, following growing criticism from the outside world and pressure from K’s important donors, a number of pardons were made during the year. Opposition parliamentarian Cheam Channy, who was sentenced in 2005 to seven years in prison for conspiracy against Hun Sen, were among the pardoned. Cheam Channy and Sam Rainsy, with several opposition MPs, also regained their prosecution immunity during the year.
In July, the 17 Cambodian and 13 UN-appointed judges were set to form the core of the long-planned tribunal, which is tasked with trying red Khmer leaders suspected of serious human rights violations. The crimes were committed between 1975 and 1979 when around 1.7 million people died as a result of the Red Khmer regime’s executions, torture, starvation and forced labor as routine elements. The first trials against Red Khmer leaders were expected to commence in 2007. At the end of 2006, only one high-ranking Red Khmer leader was detained pending trial. The other dozen still living suspects had been pardoned by the current government and lived freely in K. In the summer of 2006, the dreaded commander of the Red Khmer, Ta Mok, passed away about 80 years old. The regime’s highest leader, Pol Pot,
In the autumn, human rights organizations criticized the government’s way of forcing thousands of residents into the capital of Phnom Penh’s slum. With riot police and excavators, they had removed the slum dwellers who refused to move. The governing authorities announced that the evictions were necessary for the development of the city; Phnom Penh would be beautified, and riverine slums would be transformed into tourist routes, public places, modern apartments and shops. The residents of the slum were moved to the outskirts of the city where there is no running water, sewerage system or electricity. Nor are there schools or market places nearby. The city authorities have promised over time to improve the standard of living of the displaced.
In September, Parliament passed a law prohibiting infidelity. The motivation was that this ban could prevent government officials from stealing public funds to give to their mistresses.
US-funded defense building demolished
Cambodia is demolishing a US-funded defense building at the Ream naval base on the south coast, while developing the strategically important naval base with support from China. The American newspaper The Wall Street Journal revealed in 2019 a secret agreement proposal that would give China the right to lay warships at Ream near the coastal city of Sihanoukville. Cambodia has denied the existence of the agreement, but Prime Minister Hun Sen has confirmed that Ream is developing with financial support from China. According to Hun Sen, however, Cambodia’s constitution prohibits foreign bases on Cambodian territory. Representatives of the Cambodian government say that the US-funded building has become too old and will be rebuilt elsewhere at the base.
Loses trade benefits in the EU
12th of August
The EU decision to withdraw some of the trade benefits enjoyed by Cambodia on the Union market through the Everything but arms (EBA) trade agreement formally enters into force (see February 2020).