WASHINGTON, D.C.: The United States said on Wednesday it will bar entry to Cambodians who undermine their country’s democracy and called on the government to reverse a crackdown on the opposition.
Cambodia’s Supreme Court, effectively controlled by strongman Prime Minister Hun Sen, outlawed the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party last month and banned more than 100 of its politicians. It accused the party of attempting to overthrow the government.
That verdict was the culmination of a strangling of dissent in Cambodia, with CNRP president Kem Sokha jailed for treason in September as part of a crackdown that has also seen media outlets shuttered, journalists jailed and activists harassed.
In response, the State Department will restrict entry to “those individuals involved in undermining democracy in Cambodia.” In some cases, their relatives will also face visa restrictions.
The department declined to say which Cambodians are being punished, in particular Hen Sen himself, and said visa issuance is confidential.
“We call on the Cambodian government to reverse course by reinstating the political opposition, releasing Kem Sokha, and allowing civil society and media to resume their constitutionally protected activities,” the department said in a statement.