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3 Apr 2020

Amnesty International

Cambodia: Amnesty International urges Cambodian govt. to withdraw draft Law on State of Emergency; while voicing concerns over a grave threat to human rights & freedoms

"Cambodia: Proposed emergency powers would obliterate human rights", 2 April 2020

The Cambodian authorities must urgently withdraw or substantially redraft the egregious State of Emergency Law which poses a grave threat to human rights in Cambodia, said Amnesty International today.

“These unprecedented powers are wildly disproportionate and threaten to permanently undercut the human rights of everyone in Cambodia,” said Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s Regional Director.

“Any emergency measures responding to COVID-19 or other emergencies must be proportionate, strictly necessary, and have the minimal possible impact on human rights. Instead of targeting critics and enacting this draconian law, the Cambodian government should be focusing on protecting the right to health through the prevention and treatment of COVID-19.”…

The draft law contains no checks and balances or periodic reviews of states of emergency, ... It also allows for the invocation of martial law “in the event of war, or in any other circumstances in which there is a serious risk to national security”, which can be broadly interpreted…

The draft law bestows 12 specific powers upon the government in times of emergency, in addition to a catch-all clause bestowing unlimited powers by authorising any “other measures that are deemed appropriate and necessary in response to the state of emergency.”…

The specifically named powers include provisions for conducting surveillance on all telecommunications mediums “using any means necessary”, and the power to ban or restrict the “distribution of information that could scare the public, cause unrest, or that can negatively impact national security, or that can cause confusion in response to the state of emergency”…