REAFFIRMING THE COMMITMENT OF THE UNITED STATES TO PROMOTE DEMOCRACY, HUMAN RIGHTS, AND THE RULE OF LAW IN CAMBODIA
(Senate - November 16, 2017)

Text available as:

Formatting necessary for an accurate reading of this text may be shown by tags (e.g., <DELETED> or <BOLD>) or may be missing from this TXT display. For complete and accurate display of this text, see the PDF.

[Congressional Record Volume 163, Number 188 (Thursday, November 16, 2017)]
[Pages S7308-S7310]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




 REAFFIRMING THE COMMITMENT OF THE UNITED STATES TO PROMOTE DEMOCRACY, 
             HUMAN RIGHTS, AND THE RULE OF LAW IN CAMBODIA

  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate 
proceed to the consideration of Calendar No. 257, S. Res. 279.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the resolution by title.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       A resolution (S. Res. 279) reaffirming the commitment of 
     the United States to promote democracy, human rights, and the 
     rule of law in Cambodia.

  There being no objection, the Senate proceeded to consider the 
resolution, which had been reported from the Committee on Foreign 
Relations, with an amendment to strike all after the resolving clause 
and insert the part printed in italic, and with an amendment to strike 
the preamble and insert the part printed in italic, as follows

                              S. Res. 279

       Whereas Prime Minister Hun Sen has been in power in 
     Cambodia since 1985 and is the longest-serving leader in 
     Southeast Asia;
       Whereas the Paris Peace Accords in 1991 provided a vital 
     framework, supported by the international community, intended 
     to help Cambodia undertake a transition to democracy, 
     including through elections and multiparty government;
       Whereas the United States Government, for more than 25 
     years, has provided hundreds of millions of dollars in 
     development aid and other types of assistance to the people 
     of Cambodia and funded work in areas including civil society, 
     capacity building for nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), 
     global health, and the Khmer Rouge Tribunal;
       Whereas, despite decades of international attention and 
     assistance to promote a pluralistic, multi-party democratic 
     system in Cambodia, the Government of Cambodia continues to 
     be undemocratically dominated by the ruling Cambodia People's 
     Party (CPP), which controls every agency and security 
     apparatus of the state;
       Whereas the leadership of Cambodia's security forces, 
     including all of its top military and police commanders, sit 
     on the Central Committee of the Politburo of the CPP;
       Whereas the CPP controls Cambodia's parliament and can pass 
     legislation without any opposition, and has often passed laws 
     that benefit its rule and weaken the capacity of the 
     opposition to challenge it;
       Whereas each of the five elections that have taken place in 
     Cambodia since 1991 were not conducted in circumstances that 
     were free and fair, and each were marked by fraud, 
     intimidation, violence, and the government's misuse of legal 
     mechanisms to weaken opposition candidates and parties;
       Whereas, in 2015, the CPP-controlled parliament passed the 
     ``Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations'', 
     known as LANGO, which gave the government sweeping powers to 
     revoke the registration of NGOs found to be operating with a 
     political bias in a blatant attempt to restrict the 
     legitimate work of civil society;
       Whereas, since the passage of LANGO, the Interior Ministry 
     has announced that it was surveilling several civil society 
     organizations and their employees for allegedly aiding 
     Cambodia's opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue 
     Party (CNRP);
       Whereas both the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and 
     the International Republican Institute (IRI) have a long 
     history in Cambodia, engaging local partners and building 
     capacity for civil society, democracy, and good governance;
       Whereas, on August 23, 2017, Cambodia's Ministry of Foreign 
     Affairs ordered the closure of NDI and the expulsion of its 
     foreign staff on allegations that it had violated LANGO and 
     was conspiring against Prime Minister Hun Sen;
       Whereas, on September 15, 2017, Prime Minister Hun Sen 
     called for the withdrawal of all volunteers from the United 
     States Peace Corps, which has operated in Cambodia since 2006 
     with 500 United States volunteers providing English language 
     and healthcare training;
       Whereas the Government of Cambodia in 2016 arrested four 
     senior staff members of the Cambodian Human Rights and 
     Development Association (ADHOC), as well as a former ADHOC 
     staff member and official on the National Election Committee 
     (NEC), and held them in pre-trial detention for 427 days 
     until released on bail on June 29, 2017, in the wake of 
     sustained international pressure;
       Whereas the Government of Cambodia arrested activist and 
     women's rights defender Tep Vanny in August 2016 and has kept 
     her in prison for over a year;
       Whereas the prominent Cambodian political commentator Kem 
     Ley was assassinated on July

[[Page S7309]]

     10, 2016, five days after a senior Cambodian general publicly 
     called on the Cambodian Armed Forces to ``eliminate and 
     dispose of'' anyone ``fomenting social turmoil'' in Cambodia;
       Whereas Kem Ley had been a frequent critic of Prime 
     Minister Hun Sen, fueling concerns that his killing was 
     politically motivated and ordered by higher authorities;
       Whereas the Government of Cambodia has taken several 
     measures to restrict its media environment, including 
     imposing a tax bill amounting to millions of dollars levied 
     against independent media outlets that resulted in the 
     closure of independent newspaper The Cambodian Daily in early 
     September 2017;
       Whereas the Government of Cambodia has ordered several 
     radio stations to stop the broadcasting of Radio Free Asia 
     and Voice of America;
       Whereas the next general election in Cambodia is scheduled 
     for July 29, 2018, and the CPP continues to use intimidation 
     and misuse of legal mechanisms to weaken political opposition 
     and media organizations in order to retain its power;
       Whereas the Cambodian parliament in 2017 passed two 
     repressive amendments to Cambodia's Law on Political Parties 
     that allow authorities to dissolve political parties and ban 
     party leaders from political activity, and which contain 
     numerous restrictions tailored to create obstacles for 
     opposition parties in an attempt to maintain the CPP's hold 
     on power;
       Whereas Kem Sokha, the President of CNRP, was arrested on 
     September 3, 2017, and charged with treason and conspiring 
     with the United States Government to overthrow the Government 
     of Cambodia, and if convicted faces up to 30 years in prison, 
     which sets the stage for the CNRP to be dissolved;
       Whereas the United States Embassy in Cambodia has publicly 
     called for the immediate release of Mr. Sokha and the removal 
     of restrictions on civil society;
       Whereas the CNRP's previous leader, Sam Rainsy, remains in 
     exile due to an outstanding warrant for his arrest in a 
     politically motivated criminal case;
       Whereas Human Rights Watch reported that local elections 
     held in Cambodia on June 4, 2017, took place in a 
     ``threatening environment hostile to free speech and genuine 
     political participation, leading to elections that were 
     neither free nor fair'';
       Whereas international election monitoring groups reported 
     fundamental flaws in the electoral process and violations of 
     Cambodia's election campaign rules during June's local 
     election;
       Whereas the Interior Ministry of Cambodia demanded that two 
     election-monitoring organizations cease their activities just 
     months after the local elections for allegedly violating the 
     LANGO law, which will allow the CPP to continue to increase 
     restrictions on election monitoring as the 2018 national 
     elections approach;
       Whereas, despite irregularities in the electoral process, 
     the CNRP made significant gains in local elections compared 
     to previous cycles, making clear that national elections in 
     2018, if they are conducted freely and fairly, will be 
     tightly contested; and
       Whereas national elections in 2018 will be closely watched 
     to ensure openness and fairness, and to monitor whether all 
     political parties and civil society groups are allowed to 
     freely participate: Now, therefore, be it
       Resolved,
     That the Senate--
       (1) reaffirms the commitment of the United States to 
     promote democracy, human rights, and the rule of law in 
     Cambodia;
       (2) condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia, 
     and urges the cessation of ongoing human rights violations;
       (3) urges Prime Minister Hun Sen and the Cambodian People's 
     Party to end all harassment and intimidation of Cambodia's 
     opposition and foster an environment where democracy can 
     thrive and flourish;
       (4) urges the Department of the Treasury, in consultation 
     with the Department of State, to consider placing all senior 
     Cambodian government officials implicated in the abuses noted 
     above on the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list;
       (5) urges the Government of Cambodia to free Mr. Kem Sokha 
     immediately and unconditionally;
       (6) calls on the Government of Cambodia to respect freedom 
     of the press and the rights of its citizens to freely 
     assemble, protest, and speak out against the government; and
       (7) supports electoral reform efforts in Cambodia and free 
     and fair elections in 2018 monitored by international 
     observers.
  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the 
committee-reported amendment be agreed to, the resolution, as amended, 
be agreed to, the committee-reported amendment to the preamble be 
agreed to, the McCain amendment at the desk be agreed to, the preamble, 
as amended, be agreed to, and the motions to reconsider be considered 
made and laid upon the table.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The committee-reported amendment in the nature of a substitute was 
agreed to.
  The resolution (S. Res. 279), as amended, was agreed to.
  The committee-reported amendment to the preamble in the nature of a 
substitute was agreed to.
  The amendment (No. 1586) was agreed to, as follows

     (Purpose: To acknowledge the contributions of nongovernmental 
                       organizations in Cambodia)

       In the preamble, strike the tenth whereas clause and insert 
     the following:
       Whereas the National Democratic Institute (NDI), the 
     International Republican Institute (IRI), and other 
     nongovernmental organizations that advance United States 
     policy objectives abroad have a long history in Cambodia and 
     respect unique cultural, historical, and religious 
     differences when promoting policies, engaging local partners, 
     and building capacity for civil society, democracy, and good 
     governance;
  The preamble, as amended, was agreed to.
  The resolution, as amended, with its preamble, as amended, reads as 
follows

                              S. Res. 279

       Whereas Prime Minister Hun Sen has been in power in 
     Cambodia since 1985 and is the longest-serving leader in 
     Southeast Asia;
       Whereas the Paris Peace Accords in 1991 provided a vital 
     framework, supported by the international community, intended 
     to help Cambodia undertake a transition to democracy, 
     including through elections and multiparty government;
       Whereas the United States Government, for more than 25 
     years, has provided hundreds of millions of dollars in 
     development aid and other types of assistance to the people 
     of Cambodia and funded work in areas including civil society, 
     capacity building for nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), 
     global health, and the Khmer Rouge Tribunal;
       Whereas despite decades of international attention and 
     assistance to promote a pluralistic, multi-party democratic 
     system in Cambodia, the Government of Cambodia continues to 
     be undemocratically dominated by the ruling Cambodia People's 
     Party (CPP), which controls every agency and security 
     apparatus of the state;
       Whereas the leadership of Cambodia's security forces, 
     including all of its top military and police commanders, sit 
     on the Central Committee of the Politburo of the CPP;
       Whereas the CPP controls Cambodia's parliament and can pass 
     legislation without any opposition, and has often passed laws 
     that benefit its rule and weaken the capacity of the 
     opposition to challenge it;
       Whereas each of the five elections that have taken place in 
     Cambodia since 1991 were not conducted in circumstances that 
     were free and fair, and each were marked by fraud, 
     intimidation, violence, and the government's misuse of legal 
     mechanisms to weaken opposition candidates and parties;
       Whereas in 2015, the CPP-controlled parliament passed the 
     ``Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations'', 
     known as LANGO, which gave the government sweeping powers to 
     revoke the registration of NGOs found to be operating with a 
     political bias in a blatant attempt to restrict the 
     legitimate work of civil society;
       Whereas since the passage of LANGO, the Interior Ministry 
     has announced that it was surveilling several civil society 
     organizations and their employees for allegedly aiding 
     Cambodia's opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue 
     Party (CNRP);
       Whereas the National Democratic Institute (NDI), the 
     International Republican Institute (IRI), and other 
     nongovernmental organizations that advance United States 
     policy objectives abroad have a long history in Cambodia and 
     respect unique cultural, historical, and religious 
     differences when promoting policies, engaging local partners, 
     and building capacity for civil society, democracy, and good 
     governance;
       Whereas, on August 23, 2017, Cambodia's Ministry of Foreign 
     Affairs ordered the closure of NDI and the expulsion of its 
     foreign staff on allegations that it had violated LANGO and 
     was conspiring against Prime Minister Hun Sen;
       Whereas, on September 15, 2017, Prime Minister Hun Sen 
     called for the withdrawal of all volunteers from the United 
     States Peace Corps, which has operated in Cambodia since 2006 
     with 500 United States volunteers providing English language 
     and healthcare training;
       Whereas the Government of Cambodia in 2016 arrested four 
     senior staff members of the Cambodian Human Rights and 
     Development Association (ADHOC), as well as a former ADHOC 
     staff member and official on the National Election Committee 
     (NEC), and held them in pre-trial detention for 427 days 
     until released on bail on June 29, 2017, in the wake of 
     sustained international pressure;
       Whereas the Government of Cambodia arrested activist and 
     women's rights defender Tep Vanny in August 2016 and has kept 
     her in prison for over a year;
       Whereas the prominent Cambodian political commentator Kem 
     Ley was assassinated on July 10, 2016, five days after a 
     senior Cambodian general publicly called on the Cambodian 
     Armed Forces to ``eliminate and dispose of'' anyone 
     ``fomenting social turmoil'' in Cambodia;
       Whereas Kem Ley had been a frequent critic of Prime 
     Minister Hun Sen, fueling concerns that his killing was 
     politically motivated and ordered by higher authorities;
       Whereas the Government of Cambodia has taken several 
     measures to restrict its media environment, including 
     imposing a tax bill amounting to millions of dollars levied

[[Page S7310]]

     against independent media outlets that resulted in the 
     closure of independent newspaper The Cambodian Daily in early 
     September 2017;
       Whereas the Government of Cambodia has ordered several 
     radio stations to stop the broadcasting of Radio Free Asia 
     and Voice of America;
       Whereas the next general election in Cambodia is scheduled 
     for July 29, 2018, and the CPP continues to use intimidation 
     and misuse of legal mechanisms to weaken political opposition 
     and media organizations in order to retain its power;
       Whereas the Cambodian parliament in 2017 passed two 
     repressive amendments to Cambodia's Law on Political Parties 
     that allow authorities to dissolve political parties and ban 
     party leaders from political activity, and which contain 
     numerous restrictions tailored to create obstacles for 
     opposition parties in an attempt to maintain the CPP's hold 
     on power;
       Whereas Kem Sokha, the President of CNRP, was arrested on 
     September 3, 2017, and charged with treason and conspiring 
     with the United States Government to overthrow the Government 
     of Cambodia, and if convicted faces up to 30 years in prison, 
     which sets the stage for the CNRP to be dissolved;
       Whereas the United States Embassy in Cambodia has publicly 
     called for the immediate release of Mr. Sokha and the removal 
     of restrictions on civil society;
       Whereas the CNRP's previous leader, Sam Rainsy, remains in 
     exile due to an outstanding warrant for his arrest in a 
     politically motivated criminal case;
       Whereas Human Rights Watch reported that local elections 
     held in Cambodia on June 4, 2017, took place in a 
     ``threatening environment hostile to free speech and genuine 
     political participation, leading to elections that were 
     neither free nor fair'';
       Whereas international election monitoring groups reported 
     fundamental flaws in the electoral process and violations of 
     Cambodia's election campaign rules during June's local 
     election;
       Whereas the Interior Ministry of Cambodia demanded that two 
     election-monitoring organizations cease their activities just 
     months after the local elections for allegedly violating the 
     LANGO law, which will allow the CPP to continue to increase 
     restrictions on election monitoring as the 2018 national 
     elections approach;
       Whereas despite irregularities in the electoral process, 
     the CNRP made significant gains in local elections compared 
     to previous cycles, making clear that national elections in 
     2018, if they are conducted freely and fairly, will be 
     tightly contested; and
       Whereas national elections in 2018 will be closely watched 
     to ensure openness and fairness, and to monitor whether all 
     political parties and civil society groups are allowed to 
     freely participate: Now, therefore, be it
       Resolved, That the Senate--
       (1) reaffirms the commitment of the United States to 
     promote democracy, human rights, and the rule of law in 
     Cambodia;
       (2) condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia, 
     and urges the cessation of ongoing human rights violations;
       (3) urges Prime Minister Hun Sen and the Cambodian People's 
     Party to end all harassment and intimidation of Cambodia's 
     opposition and foster an environment where democracy can 
     thrive and flourish;
       (4) urges the Department of the Treasury, in consultation 
     with the Department of State, to consider placing all senior 
     Cambodian government officials implicated in the abuses noted 
     above on the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list;
       (5) urges the Government of Cambodia to free Mr. Kem Sokha 
     immediately and unconditionally;
       (6) calls on the Government of Cambodia to respect freedom 
     of the press and the rights of its citizens to freely 
     assemble, protest, and speak out against the government; and
       (7) supports electoral reform efforts in Cambodia and free 
     and fair elections in 2018 monitored by international 
     observers.

                          ____________________