Cambodia: HRW and Article 19 claim that Cambodia's draft law on access to information contravenes international standards on the right to information

Author: HRW and Article 19, Published on: 12 December 2019

"Cambodia: Access to Information Bill Falls Short", 11 December 2019

The Cambodian authorities should amend the Draft Law on Access to Information to reflect international standards relating to the right to information, ARTICLE 19 and Human Rights Watch said …

“The government’s commitment to adopting access to information legislation is a step in the right direction. A strong law could open up channels for combatting corruption, promoting accountability, and enabling public participation in official decision-making processes,” said Matthew Bugher, ARTICLE 19’s Head of Asia Programme. “However, the government has yet to incorporate key recommendations, despite a lengthy consultation process.”

…, the Draft Law has numerous shortcomings, including a narrow definition of the type of information and institutions to which it applies, and failure to establish effective oversight mechanisms. These shortcomings contravene international standards on the right to information and Cambodia’s obligations under international human rights law as well as threaten to undermine the law’s potential.

ARTICLE 19’s and Human Rights Watch’s assessment of the Draft Law contrasts with the recent statement by the Minister of Information that the Draft Law aligned with international standards and Cambodia’s constitution. The Draft Law has many ambiguous provisions and unclear definitions and omits key components of exemplary access to information legislation.

… The right to information is protected in several treaties to which Cambodia is a party, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The right to information guarantees individuals, groups, and companies the right to obtain information from public bodies while also obliging those public bodies to facilitate access to information through responses to requests and proactive publication…

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