Cambodia: army and police campaign for ruling party

(New York) – Cambodian army officers, gendarmes and police are actively campaigning for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), in violation of Cambodian law requiring political neutrality, Human Rights Watch said today ‘hui. Cambodia is holding national elections on July 29, 2018, amid a context where the opposition Cambodia National Relief Party (CNRP) was dissolved, its president Kem Sokha was arrested and its founder Sam Rainsy was forced into exile.

Senior members of the security forces have supported Prime Minister Hun Sen and the CPP at numerous public rallies and other events across Cambodia. Article 9 of the Law on the General Status of Military Personnel of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (ARC) states that “military personnel shall be neutral in their duties and professional activities, and the use of duties / titles and military equipment. the state for political purposes activities are prohibited.

“To win a bogus election, it is not enough for the ruling CPP to ban the opposition, control all electoral institutions and maintain a grip on the media,” said Brad Adams, director of Asia. “Apparently the CPP thinks it must also deploy some of the country’s most feared generals to campaign and intimidate people into going to the polls.

To win a bogus election, it is not enough for the ruling CPP to ban the opposition, control all electoral institutions and maintain a grip on the media.

Asia Director

According to local media, since the start of the official campaign period on July 7, General Sao Sokha, acting supreme commander of the Cambodian army, has campaigned for the CPP, participants told participants on July 8 in a pagoda. Buddhist of Kandal Province that “under the wise leadership of Samdech Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister of Cambodia, our country has developed all over the country, including roads, bridges, canals, schools, hospitals , etc.

  • General Hing Bun Heang, who was recently sanctioned for human rights violations by the United States under the Global Magnitsky Act, addressed around 1,000 teachers at a CPP rally on 8 July. peace across the country under the able leadership of Samdech Techo Hun Sen as head of government and chairman of the Cambodian People’s Party, ”and called on those gathered to vote for the CPP.
  • Lieutenant-General Rat Sreang, deputy commander of the national gendarmerie and commander of the Phnom Penh gendarmerie, led a CPP team on July 8 in Phnom Penh to “explain to the people how to vote correctly”.

Human Rights Watch received reports of numerous other senior security officials campaigning for Hun Sen and the CPP before the official campaign period began on July 7, in violation of Cambodian law:

  • General Hun Manet, son of Hun Sen, who was recently promoted to acting commander-in-chief of the RCAF, campaigned for the CPP on July 2.
  • ARC deputy commander-in-chief General Meas Sophea inducted CPP members and called for an electoral victory for the CPP as he campaigned in Preah Vihear province on June 15.
  • Chap Pheakdey, deputy army commander and commander of the 911 brigade, campaigned for the CPP and Hun Sen in Svay Rieng province on June 17.
  • Kun Kim, deputy supreme commander of the RCAF, campaigned for the CPP in Oddar Meanchey province on June 23 and 26.
  • ARC Supreme Commander Pol Saroeun made a campaign trip to Preah Sihanouk province and fielded the CPP candidates for election, with himself at the top of the list, on June 24 and again on July 1 .
  • Chuon Sovan, Deputy Supreme Commissioner of the National Police, chaired the CPP campaign in Pea Reang district of Prey Veng province on June 16.

The CPP’s slate of candidates for election seats includes senior military, gendarmes and police officers on active duty who have helped maintain Hun Sen’s reign since he became Prime Minister in 1985. These are in particular of Pol Saroeun, Meas Sophea and Kun Kim, as well as Lieutenant-General Dy Vichea, deputy chief of the national police force and son-in-law of Hun Sen.

Guidelines promulgated in 2016 by the Venice Commission and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights state that “the non-involvement of judges, prosecutors, the police, the military and of political contestants’ listeners in their official capacity in the election campaign is of essential importance. . Concrete measures should guarantee this official neutrality throughout the electoral process.

“Basic democratic principles require the political neutrality of the military and police for elections to be free, fair and credible,” Adams said. “But nothing in this election is democratic, so it’s no surprise that the CPP uses senior commanders as ruling party activists. Foreign governments that have poured billions of dollars into Cambodia over the past decades to promote democracy should protest this blatant abuse of the electoral process.

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