The United Nations’ Special Rapporteur to Cambodia Rhona Smith on Friday expressed concern over reports of voter intimidation in the lead up to a general election this month that has been widely derided as unfree and unfair amid an ongoing political crackdown in the country. In a statement posted to the Facebook page of the U.N’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Cambodia, Smith highlighted reports of government representatives stating that abstaining from voting was illegal and that fines would be imposed on people messaging about a boycott of the July 29 election. She also pointed to reports that local authorities have threatened to withhold public services from those who do not vote for Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP). “This only creates a climate of fear and confusion,” Smith said.
“I welcome recent government calls to local authorities to avoid discrimination during the campaign and encourage the government to condemn in very clear terms voter intimidation and to clarify that calling for a boycott in a non-compulsory vote is permitted.”
Cambodia’s Supreme Court dissolved the main opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) in November over allegations it was involved in a plot to topple the government, stripping the party’s officials of their posts and banning many lawmakers from politics for five years.