Comments of Ambassador W. Patrick Murphy to Press at Kem Sokha’s House

Kem Sokha’s House, Phnom Penh
November 11, 2019

This time is really about Mr. Kem Sokha, and not really about me or my country, but I will make one observation. It’s a real joy to see Mr. Kem Sokha again. I met him a couple of years ago, and I found him to be a very peaceful, kind man, a very experienced leader. And I regret that his liberties have been denied to him these past two years.

The move that was made by authorities yesterday is a step forward, and we have acknowledged that, and I have acknowledged that with government authorities. However, we think it’s very important to see more. And our advice as a friend of the Kingdom of Cambodia is that the authorities find a way to restore Mr. Kem Sokha’s entire freedoms and liberties, and drop the charges against him. But also to use this important time and place to do the same for many other people who have had their freedoms and liberties denied. We urge that they be freed, that they be allowed – whether they are inside the country or outside the country — to participate, so that their voices can be heard. Some of them are political party members, some of them are from civil society, some of them are journalists, like the two RFA journalists. We’d like to see them all freed and charges dropped so that they can participate.

We believe that this would be really, very helpful for Cambodia. It would be helpful for governance and the economy for all voices to be heard and participate, to make a stronger democracy, and to see an inclusive, complete dialogue aimed at broad reconciliation. So that once again Cambodia can be on the path to a full, multi-party democracy.  That would be good for Cambodia, it would be good for Cambodia’s relations with its neighbors, and with my country, the United States. It really is very nice to see Mr. Kem Sokha today. It’s a source of joy for us all.

Thank you.