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Resolution adopted unanimously by the Governing Council
at its 175th session (Geneva, 1st October 2004)

The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Referring to the outline of the case of Mr. Chhang Song, Mr. Siphan Phay and Mr. Pou Savath, members (expelled) of the Senate of Cambodia, as contained in the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (CL/175/11(a)-R.1), and to the resolution adopted at its 174th session (April 2004),

Taking account of the letters of the President of the Senate, dated 6 September 2004, and of the Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Human Rights and Reception of Complaints, dated 28 May 2004,

Recalling that the Senators concerned were expelled from their party, the Cambodian People's Party (CPP) on 6 December 2001 and dismissed from Parliament a few days later, a decision never formally notified to them; their expulsion occurred after they had criticised in Parliament the Criminal Code Bill; recalling its position, which is shared by competent United Nations bodies, that the Senators were expelled although nothing in the Constitution or in the Senate Standing Orders prescribes forfeiture of the parliamentary mandate in the event of expulsion from a political party; only the internal party regulations of the CPP provide for termination of membership in Parliament in cases of expulsion from the party,

Considering that, at the meeting the Secretary General had with him on the occasion of his visit to Cambodia (13-17 September 2004), Prime Minister Hun Sen stated that the Senators concerned had been expelled from their party because they had made public statements highly critical of the King; such criticism, he said, was considered a breach of the Constitution, which protected the Head of State from such criticism; he felt therefore that expelling the Senators from the party, even if they lost their parliamentary mandate as a result, was a lenient measure as they could have been brought to court for violating the Constitution, which would have entailed a much harsher sentence,

Recalling also that the parliamentary authorities have suggested that the former Senators take their case to court, which the latter do not wish to do for fear of their security; recalling in this respect that, in its Concluding Observations on Cambodia’s initial State report under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (CCPR/C/79/Add. 108, 27 July 1999), the Human Rights Committee remained concerned that the justice system was still weak owing, inter alia, to the "susceptibility of judges to ... bribery and political pressure", and that it was alarmed at the failure of the Cambodian authorities to investigate fully allegations of killings by the security forces, other disappearances and deaths in custody,

Recalling further that one of the Senators concerned has referred the matter to the Senate Committee on Human Rights and Reception of Complaints, but has never received an answer; considering that, in her letter of 28 May 2004, the Chairperson of the Committee stated that it "is unable to find any suitable solutions because the above case has passed without judgment for so long. Moreover, this case concerned the rules and regulations of a political party",

Considering that the Senate is in the process of drafting new Standing Orders and that, according to the letter of the Senate President, a special committee is at present finalising the draft for submission to the Standing Committee and eventually the Senate plenary; it is expected to finish its work by November 2004,

  1. Thanks the President of the Senate for his constant cooperation; also thanks the Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Human Rights and Reception of Complaints for her letter;

  2. Recalls that neither the Constitution nor the Senate Standing Orders contains any provision enabling a political party to revoke the parliamentary mandate of one of its members, and that internal party regulations which provide for such revocation cannot in any event invalidate superior legal norms, such as the Senate Standing Orders and, still less so, the Constitution;

  3. Concludes therefore that the Senate was not bound by the decision of the CPP to expel the three Senators from the party and was entitled to refuse the CPP’s request to replace them; considers therefore that the Senate can and should take remedial action and provide redress to its three former members;

  4. Remains convinced that the Senate’s own Committee on Human Rights and Reception of Complaints would be ideally placed to seek a settlement of this case, and appeals to it once again to examine the possibility of obtaining such redress, if only moral, for their former colleagues;

  5. Reiterates its wish to ascertain on what grounds the Senators concerned were expelled from their party and, as a result, from Parliament; notes in this respect that there is a link between the criticism by the Senators concerned in Parliament of the Criminal Code Bill, their dismissal from their party and hence from Parliament; and affirms that freedom of expression is at the core of parliamentarians’ work, and that parliaments in all democracies should jealously guard and cherish this right;

  6. Continues to believe, in the light of the concerns expressed by the competent United Nations human rights bodies with respect to the independence of the judiciary and the still prevailing impunity in the country, that the fears of the persons concerned, which have prevented them from taking their case to court, are not unfounded;

  7. Notes that the draft standing orders have not as yet been adopted; and would appreciate receiving a copy of the final version of the draft;

  8. Requests the Secretary General to convey this resolution to the competent authorities, inviting them to provide their observations, to the sources and to the competent international human rights bodies;

  9. Requests the Committee to continue examining this case and report to it at its next session, to be held on the occasion of the 112th Assembly (April 2005).

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