Civic space for the functioning of democracy and exercise of political rights in Cambodia has been operating without constraints, discrimination or threats, contrary to some criticisms levelled at the Kingdom by “outside actors”, said Senate president Say Chhum.
Say Chhum made the remarks during his December 1 meeting with Christophe-Andre Frassa, chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Francophonie (APF) who is leading a delegation on a visit to Cambodia.
The Senate president said the visit would contribute to strengthening cooperation between the APF and Cambodia's parliament.
He stressed that the Kingdom's legislatures have played an active role in regional and global French-speaking parliamentary forums, and are eager to continue cooperation with the APF under its mechanisms.
"The Cambodian parliament and government place great importance on open cooperation with all foreign friends and international partners who are willing to understand and accept the political situation with regard to our democracy and respect for human rights and freedom of expression.
"Democratic space, freedom of expression, politics rights, the right of the people to assemble, form political parties, freedom of the press, civil society organizations – all of these have been operating here freely, without discrimination or threats,” Chhum said.
Frassa stated that the purpose of the visit was to find out about the positive developments in Cambodia within the framework of the APF, and he praised the close relations and cooperation between Cambodia and French-speaking countries.
Say Chhum also reminded Frassa that since 1993, Cambodia has held regular elections as stipulated in the Constitution, noting that on June 5 of this year Cambodia held its 5th-mandate commune council elections, which had the participation of 17 political parties, nine of which won commune council seats.
"The election was free, fair, non-threatening, non-violent and acceptable to all. There were local and international observers participating in the process,” he said.
Am Sam Ath, deputy director of rights group LICADHO, said more need to be done to ensure that fundamental freedoms of citizens are respected.
"Recently, we saw that UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres and US President Joe Biden all called on Cambodia to open up to more democracy and enforce the rule of law to achieve a better human rights situation in the country and for the upcoming 2023 national election,” he said.