Resolution adopted without a vote by the Inter-Parliamentary Council at its 158th session
(Istanbul, 20 April 1996)

The Inter-Parliamentary Council,

Referring to the outline of the case, as contained in the report of the Committee on the Human Rights Parliamentarians (CL/158/13(a)-R.1), and to the resolution adopted at its 157th session (October 1995), concerning the case of Mr. Sam Rainsy, a member of the Parliament of Cambodia,

Taking into consideration the letters from the First Prime Minister dated 3 November 1995 and 12 January 1996 and the letters from His Majesty the King of Cambodia dated 20 November 1995 and 8 February 1996,

Also taking into consideration the information conveyed by the sources on 8 November 1995 and on 19 January and 12 April 1996,

Recalling that Mr. Sam Rainsy, a founding member of FUNCINPEC, was elected in 1993; that he was expelled from his party and subsequently stripped of his parliamentary mandate; that the authorities endorsed the view that, according to the prevailing law, people elect parties and not individuals and that therefore membership in the National Assembly is closely tied to membership in a party,

Recalling that the lawfulness of Mr. Sam Rainsy's dismissal from his party and subsequently from Parliament has been called into question by several sources, the latter in particular on grounds that not one single legal provision requires the replacement of MPs in the event of their dismissal from their parties,

Recalling also that Mr. Sam Rainsy has so far been unable to exercise his right to be heard, in particular since the Constitutional Court, which is competent in such matters, has not yet been set up,

Recalling further that the King of Cambodia - who according to the Constitution is the guarantor of the rights and freedoms of all Cambodian citizens - has on numerous occasions expressed his disagreement with Mr. Sam Rainsy's expulsion from the National Assembly; noting in this respect that the First Prime Minister in his declaration of 3 August 1995, as published by the Angkor Hebdo of 14 August 1995, stated that beside the National Assembly and the coalition Government "the wisdom of His Majesty the King, the Father of the Nation" was the country's best hope until the next elections,

Considering that, in his letter of 20 November 1995, the King of Cambodia stated that "all observers of good faith recognize the efforts I have made unceasingly to defend human rights in Cambodia, particularly those of the Cambodian MPs in question. Yet the Government and the majority of the members of the National Assembly have the last word. My moral authority does not suffice ..."; considering further that, in his letter of 8 February 1996, the King approved the principle that the defence of human rights is a duty incumbent upon the human community on the basis of the internationally recognized principles set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in all circumstances, in all countries and under any political system,

Considering also that, in his letter of 3 November 1995, the First Prime Minister stated "that the decision taken by FUNCINPEC to expel this person is entirely legitimate and that it was taken in full accordance with the provisions adopted democratically by the party, after several warnings to the person in question ..."; that he stated subsequently in that letter that he had noted with surprise "that arguments have led the Committee to fear that this parliamentarian has been stripped of his parliamentary seat solely for having exercised the right to freedom of speech. This is totally inadmissible. The National Assembly of Cambodia is sovereign ... ... I strongly hope that the IPU will unambiguously recognize the sovereignty of the National Assembly of the Kingdom of Cambodia",

Considering further that, in his letter of 12 January 1996, the First Prime Minister stated that, since the IPU had not provided a clear-cut answer regarding the sovereignty of the National Assembly as requested by him, "this fundamental point demands the suspension of any participation of the legitimate representatives of Cambodian institutions in the work of the IPU",

Bearing in mind that in his declaration of 3 August 1995, the First Prime Minister, referring to the case of Mr. Sam Rainsy, stated firmly that "neither the Prime Minister nor the Royal Government can interfere with the activities of the National Assembly. It is a sovereign organization",

Considering that Mr. Sam Rainsy, on 9 November 1995, launched a new political party, the "Khmer Nation Party", that, however, the authorities immediately questioned the legality of the move arguing that there was no law specifying the constitutionally guaranteed right to establish parties and that therefore no new parties could be set up; that on 11 December 1995 the Government officially declared the Khmer Nation Party illegal and called on it to cease its activities,

Considering that, according to one of the sources, on 23 March 1996, at an extraordinary congress of the Liberal Reconciliation Party (LRP) -- a party registered under the UNTAC law for the 1993 elections -- Mr. Sam Rainsy was elected President of that party, which decided to change its name to "Khmer Nation Party",

Considering that, in his letter of 3 November 1995, the First Prime Minister stated that "it would be impossible to follow the recommendations of the IPU. Indeed, the former MP decided to establish his own political party ... prior to his expulsion from the National Assembly, by publishing his political programme. This person deliberately strove to create a situation which could only lead to the legitimate decisions taken by his former party and the National Assembly",

Considering that Second Prime Minister Hun Sen, in a statement published on 19 January 1996, said that Mr. Sam Rainsy's "life would be shortened if concealed weapons were discovered in his possession ...",

1. Assures the Cambodian authorities that the Inter-Parliamentary Union fully recognizes the sovereignty of Cambodia and its National Assembly;

2. Recalls that the defence of human rights is a duty incumbent upon the human community on the basis of the internationally recognized juridical principles set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in all circumstances, in all countries and under any political system;

3. Stresses therefore that the IPU's legitimate concern to ensure respect for the universally recognized human rights principles can in no way be construed by any State as interference in its internal affairs;

4. Reiterates that, over and above this duty, the international community has special responsibility for Cambodia after contributing, by dint of considerable effort, to the restoration of peace and the re-establishment of representative institutions;

5. Cannot but reaffirm the concerns expressed in the resolution it adopted at its last session (October 1995);

6. Notes with concern that the clear stand of His Majesty King Norodom Sihanouk on the case of Mr. Sam Rainsy has been ignored by the Government and the National Assembly, even though the Constitution makes the King guarantor of the rights and freedoms of all Cambodian citizens;

7. Fails to understand why the fact that Mr. Sam Rainsy founded a political party makes it impossible for him to have his case reconsidered by the competent authorities of Cambodia and, in particular, to have it heard by an impartial and independent tribunal in accordance with his right under national and international norms;

8. Urges the authorities and, in particular, the Cambodian Parliament to do everything in their power to ensure respect for Mr. Sam Rainsy's right to have his case heard by an independent and impartial court, and in particular by the Constitutional Court to be set up, in a spirit consonant with the principles of democracy and human rights;

9. Expresses concern at the fact that, initially, Mr. Sam Rainsy was prevented from founding a new political party, given that the Cambodian Constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Cambodia is a party, guarantee the right to freedom of association; but notes that he was subsequently elected President of the Liberal Reconciliation Party, which decided to change its name to Khmer Nation Party;

10. Considers that the failure of the authorities to enact constitutional provisions, such as the law on political parties and the establishment of the Constitutional Court, cannot be advanced as precluding the exercise of constitutionally guaranteed rights, such as the right to have one's case heard before an independent and impartial tribunal and the right to freedom of association;

11. Is alarmed at what seem to be thinly veiled death threats against Mr. Sam Rainsy, and strongly urges the Government to protect Mr. Sam Rainsy's life under any circumstances, as is its duty;

12. Requests the Secretary General to convey these considerations and concerns to the President of the National Assembly and to the First and Second Prime Ministers of Cambodia, inviting them to take these matters into urgent account;

13. Requests the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians to continue examining this case and to report to it at its next session (September 1996).

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