AS DELIVERED by David Sullivan
The United States welcomes the Cambodian delegation.
We note with deep concern the Cambodian government’s January 4 ban on public demonstrations in Phnom Penh and repeated efforts by security forces to forcibly disperse demonstrations. We call upon the Cambodian government to immediately lift the ban and accord to its citizens freedom of peaceful assembly and of association without fear of retribution or intimidation.
We acknowledge Cambodia’s stated commitment to institute electoral reforms following the 2013 national election and urge concrete action to continue strengthening the country’s democratic institutions. We would also like to see progress on Cambodia’s reform of its penal code.
We note Cambodia’s recent moratorium on economic land concessions, and encourage the government to strengthen land management mechanisms so that land-related conflicts are resolved in a fair and transparent manner with full respect for the rule of law and the equal protection of the law.
We recommend that Cambodia:
1. Undertake key electoral reforms to: improve the integrity of the voter registration system and voter list; ensure that all candidates have equal access to the media; and ensure the National Election Committee retains full independence;
2. Repeal or amend relevant articles of the Penal Code, such as those regarding defamation or discrediting of judicial decisions, which would bring Cambodia’s domestic legislation in line with its international human rights obligations on freedom of expression;
3. Take steps to implement an official land titling program -– with participation of civil society – as a means to prioritize the settlement of land disputes.