The dissolution of Cambodia's main opposition party

Written Questions to High Representative
Marietje

Following the decision by the Supreme Court to dissolve the Cambodian National Rescue Party, the main opposition party, Marietje Schaake asked High Representative Federica Mogherini whether she is considering suspending the trade preferences Cambodia enjoys under the Everything but Arms Scheme (EBA). Please see the questions as well as a rolling list of co-signatories below.

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A decision by Cambodia’s Supreme Court today dissolved the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), effectively making Cambodia a one party state.  

Today’s ruling comes on top of an ongoing government crackdown and systematic repression of civil society organisations, opposition groups and figures as well as the media.  

1.  Is the HR/VP aware of the above mentioned ruling and what sort of action will she take in response?

2. How does the HR/VP judge the dissolution of CNRP will affect the state of democracy in Cambodia and does she agree that today’s ruling is a violation of Cambodia’s obligation under various conventions referred to in article 19 of the EBA regulation which should lead to the temporary withdrawal of the tariff preferences Cambodia currently enjoys?

3. What effect will the ongoing crackdown together with today’s development have on the EU’s financial support to Cambodia, amongst others under the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights?

Co-signatories

- Hilde Vautmans (ALDE)

- Frederique Ries (ALDE)

- Monica Macovei (ECR)

- Ramon Tremosa i Balcells (ALDE)

- Merja Kyllonen (GUE)

- Alessia Mosca (S&D) 

- Matthijs van Miltenburg (ALDE)

Answer given by Vice-President Mogherini on behalf of the Commission

On 16 November 2017, the High Representative/Vice-President Mogherini (HR/VP) Spokesperson issued a statement stressing that the enforced dissolution of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) was a significant step away from the path of pluralism and democracy in Cambodia. The statement emphasised that an electoral process from which the main opposition party had been arbitrarily excluded was not legitimate and disenfranchised those citizens who supported the CNRP (44.5% of the vote in the 2013 legislative election and 43.8% in the 2017 local election).

On 20 November 2017, HR/VP Mogherini met with the Cambodian Foreign Minister in the margins of the ASEM(1) Ministerial meeting in Myanmar. She insisted on the expectation that the continued detention of the opposition leader, Kem Sokha, and the dissolution of the CNRP, would be swiftly reversed.

The respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms is part of the EU's trade policy and underpins the legal basis of our trade preferences. The Commission services, in cooperation with the European External Action Service, are monitoring the situation in Cambodia to ensure that the conditions under the EU's Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) Regulation 978/2012 are fulfilled. A dedicated GSP monitoring mission is foreseen in 2018.

In terms of financial assistance, the European Commission has already decided to put on hold its support to the National Elections Committee (NEC). This decision was communicated to the Cambodian authorities on 12 December 2017.

The European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) is a thematic funding instrument which aims to support civil society actors in particularly sensitive political contexts related to human rights issues without the need for approval from national authorities.

(1)ASEM: Asia-Europe Meeting.