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13 Mar 2021

Khuon Narim, CamboJA

Cambodia: Despite criticism from NGOs, Cambodia passes law on Covid-19 measures; the law gives excessive power to govt. to restrict freedoms of movement & assembly

"Law on COVID-19 passed amid criticism by rights groups", 13 March 2021

Local and international civil society groups have criticized a newly passed Covid-19 prevention law as being overly broad and vague, saying the law could be easily abused and fails to provide any independent oversight or safeguards.

The controversial draft was signed into law …, the same day that Cambodia reported its first ever Covid-19 death….

The law sets out penalties that can be imposed on people found to have violated any health, administrative, or other measures put in place by the government to prevent the spread of Covid-19 or other diseases…

In Article 4 and 5, the law gives the government permission to temporarily restrict travel and gatherings; order business closures for places where Covid-19 has been found to spread; and sets out punishments, including the suspension or removal of business licenses, fines, and imprisonment…

… Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said … that the new Covid-19 law is excessive and unnecessary, and could be easily misused by the government to violate human rights.

“Quite clearly, the government is trying to intimidate people and create fear for anyone to say anything about the government’s Covid-19 response”, he said.

… Am Sam Ath, deputy director at rights group Licadho, expressed concern over the extremely severe penalties, pointing out that the law has not yet been widely disseminated to the public.

“People will face punishment, including being fined seriously, due only to the fact that they haven’t yet understood the law,” he said…