The Florida congressman who leads Republicans on the U.S. House Asia and the Pacific Subcommittee continued to stress his opposition to Hun Sen’s regime in Cambodia.
U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., was part of a group of congressional leaders who sounded the alarm about freedom of the press in Cambodia last week as two former Radio Free Asia (RFA) journalists are facing charges in that nation.
Yoho was joined by U.S. Rep Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who leads the U.S. House Intelligence Committee and cochairs the Congressional Freedom of the Press Caucus; U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, who cochairs the Congressional Freedom of the Press Caucus and the Congressional Cambodia Caucus; U.S. Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-Calif., who cochairs the Congressional Cambodia Caucus; and U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., the chairman of the Asia and Pacific Subcommittee.
“Cambodian journalists, Uon Chhin and Yeang Sothearin were charged with ‘illegally collecting information for a foreign source’ simply for publishing a news story three days after the RFA Phnom Penh bureau was forced to close in 2017 following relentless pressure from Prime Minister Hun Sen. These charges are completely manufactured by Hun Sen’s regime and just another attack on the rights and freedoms of the Cambodian people,” the congressmen said in a joint statement.
“Hun Sen has run the country for decades with no intentions of letting the Cambodian people determine the future of their country or protecting their rights. The regime’s recent consolidation of power allows it to continue these abuses, which include attacks against NGOs and the shuttering of critical media outlets like RFA, with impunity. That is why the international community must take a strong stance against these injustices. The Cambodian government should drop these unsubstantiated charges and honor the freedoms of its people,” they added.
Back in July, Yoho got a bill adding sanctions on the Cambodian regime through the House. The bill adds “sanctions on government, military, or security officials who have undermined democracy in Cambodia or committed related human rights abuses.” Yoho had introduced similar legislation last year which passed the House but did not clear the Senate.
The North Florida Republican weighed in on the resolution after it had cleared the House.
“Today, the House passed the Cambodia Democracy Act of 2019, which I introduced in April,” Yoho said. “This important bipartisan legislation will apply asset blocking sanctions on government, military or security officials who have undermined democracy in Cambodia or committed related human rights issues.
“Hun Sen, Cambodia’s strongman prime minister, has clung to power for decades, and has no intentions of relinquishing power. His regime has used violence, threats, and sham prosecutions to attack the peaceful opposition. In 2017, the regime-controlled Parliament and Supreme Court dismantled the Cambodia National Rescue Party and banned its elected officials from office, eliminating the country’s only viable opposition party,” Yoho added. “The Cambodia Democracy Act of 2019 will push back against the Hun Sen regime’s undermining of democracy and related human rights abuses by applying financial sanctions to the figures who carry out this despicable agenda and codifying the administration’s existing visa restrictions for these individuals.
“I look forward to the bipartisan legislation being sent to the Senate and eventually becoming law. It is time to hold the Hun Sen regime accountable for their actions,” Yoho said in conclusion.
Yoho reeled in some of the leading members of the House–including U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel, D-NY, who chairs the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee and U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas–to back his proposal.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org.