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Rubio and Markey’s Cambodia Democracy and Human Rights Act Advances

Jul 19, 2022 | Press Releases

Prime Minister Hun Sen turned Cambodia into a dictatorship. Political opposition is banned, free speech and independent media are censored, all while many leaders of the primary opposition party are persecuted, jailed, or exiled. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the armed wing of the Chinese Communist Party, has increased its presence and influence in the country, including reportedly breaking ground in June on a naval facility in Cambodia.
In response, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations passed the Cambodia Democracy and Human Rights Act (S.3052). The bipartisan bill, introduced by U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ed Markey (D-MA), supports democracy and protection for human rights in Cambodia and requires reporting on Chinese military activity inside the country.

  •  “The Hun Sen dictatorship destroyed democracy in Cambodia and allowed the nation to be exploited by the Chinese Communist Party. We need to hold bad actors in Cambodia accountable. I look forward to swift Senate passage of our bipartisan bill.” — Senator Rubio
  • “I am pleased the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has passed the Cambodia Democracy and Human Rights Act to hold Cambodian officials accountable for corruption and abuses that harm the people of Cambodia. Prime Minister Hun Sen and his cronies have overseen a nationwide crackdown against political opposition, free speech, and journalism, while embracing endemic corruption at the expense of the Cambodian people. The promise of the 1991 Paris Peace Accords, a representative democracy that reflects the will of the Cambodian people, cannot be abandoned. I urge swift Senate and then House passage so we can sign this bill into law without delay.”  — Senator Markey

Specifically, the Cambodia Democracy and Human Rights Act:

  • Applies asset blocking sanctions on anyone, including senior officials of the Government, military, or security forces of Cambodia, that the President determines has undermined democracy in Cambodia, engaged in significant corruption, committed related human rights violations, or has engaged in or supports the establishment of installations or facilities that could be used by the PLA or entities tied to the PLA in Cambodia;
  • Codifies the State Department’s existing visa restrictions for individuals engaged in such activity;
  • Requires the President to transmit to Congress a list of individuals engaged in such activities;
  • Includes a Presidential waiver upon a certification that such waiver is in the national interest of the United States;
  • Allows that sanctions may be suspended for up to one year, and renewed for one-year periods, upon the President’s certification to Congress that Cambodia is making meaningful progress towards ending government efforts to undermine democracy, ending related human rights violations, and conducting free and fair elections; and
  • Requires the President to submit a report to Congress detailing activities of the Government of the People’s Republic of China and the People’s Liberation Army inside Cambodia, including through the Belt and Road Initiative, and the impact their presence has had on the deterioration of democracy and human rights inside Cambodia.