Cambodia. According to
Countryaah.com, the government and the ruling Cambodian
People's Party (CPP) increased pressure on the opposition
and individual organizations as well as the media during the
Concerns nevertheless, the World Bank reported that
growth in 2016 was 7% and would be close to that level in
2017 and 2018. This despite a slowdown in the export of
textiles and the construction sector, but other
manufacturing and tourism contributed to the economy. China
was Cambodia's most important donor and investor.
Sam Rainsy, leader of the largest opposition party CNRP
(Cambodia's National Rescue Party), resigned in February. He
has lived in exile for several years and has been threatened
by several legal processes. The departure was seen as an
attempt to ward off a ban on the party. Kem Sokha took over
as party and opposition leader.
In February, the CNRP boycotted a vote in which
Parliament gave the Supreme Court and the Interior Ministry
the opportunity to dissolve political parties. Nor did
people convicted of crimes get a candidate. The writing was
considered directed at Rainsy, who was previously sentenced
to two years in prison in a contentious prosecution case.
At the June local elections - which was seen as a kind of
trial before the 2018 parliamentary elections - CNRP went
ahead and won power in almost 30% of the more than 1,600
municipalities. The mood before and during the election was
described as threatening and long-standing Prime Minister
Hun Sen made frantic results.
In September, Kem Sokha was arrested for alleged
cooperation with the United States to overthrow the
government. He risks 30 years in prison. In the wake of Kem
Sokha's arrest, some 20 of the CNRP's 55 MPs went into
The Supreme Court, whose independence was challenged,
announced in November that CNRP would be banned. The ban
lasts for five years and removes the only real challenger to
Hun Sens's party. CNRP's seats in parliament and
municipalities should be distributed among other parties,
including the royalist FUNCINPEC. The decision was
criticized by international donors and a number of
countries, including Sweden who also announced that the
cooperation with Cambodia would be reviewed. UN Special
Rapporteur for Cambodia, Rhona Smith, warned that the
country was on its way to becoming a one-party state.
Shortly thereafter, in a speech before textile workers,
Hun Sen demanded that the human rights group CCHR (Cambodian
Center for Human Rights) should be closed because it was
created by foreigners. The group was formed in 2002 by Kem
Sokha, but CCHR stated that he left the management in 2007.
The group claims to be independent.
At the end of the year, Hun Sen said he aims to remain
for another ten years by winning two elections and that his
party fears neither sanctions nor delayed trade benefits and
others would not interfere in Cambodia's internal affairs.
However, both union leaders and techno-factory owners were
worried that any sanctions might strike against the
important industry, which employs just over 740,000 people.
The independent newspaper The Cambodia Daily stopped
coming out in September after authorities demanded $ 6
million in tax. The validity of the claim was called into
question. Several radio stations transmitting Khmer-language
material from Radio Free Asia (RFA) and Voice of America
were also closed. Two former RFA journalists were indicted