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9 Apr 2020


Cambodia: International Commission of Jurists warns that Cambodia’s draft Law on a State of Emergency violates rule of law principles & human rights

"Cambodia: State of Emergency bill violates the rule of law", 8 April 2020

The ICJ … warned that Cambodia’s draft Law on National Administration in the State of Emergency (“State of Emergency bill”) violates basic rule of law principles and human rights, and called on the Cambodian government to urgently withdraw or amend the bill in accordance with international human rights law and standards.

…, government spokesperson Phay Siphan explained that the government needed to bring a State of Emergency law in force to combat the COVID-19 outbreak as “Cambodia is a rule of law country”. The bill is now before the National Assembly and, if passed by the Assembly, will likely be considered in an extraordinary session convened by the Senate. The law will come into force once it has been signed by the King – or in his absence, the acting Head of State, Senate President Say Chhum.

“The Cambodian government has long abused the term “rule of law” to justify bringing into force laws or regulations that are then used to suppress free expression and target critics. This bill is no different,” said Frederick Rawski, ICJ’s Director for Asia and the Pacific.

“Any effective response to the COVID-19 outbreak must not only protect the rights to health and life, but be implemented in accordance with Cambodia’s human rights obligations and basic principles of the rule of law.”…

“If passed in its current form, this bill will reinforce the prevailing lack of accountability which defines the government in Cambodia. The government’s time would be better spent developing genuine public health policy responses to the crisis.”