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3 Apr 2020

Narin Sun, VOA

Cambodia: Govt. defends draft Law on State of Emergency amid Covid-19; while rights group concerns that the law undercuts human rights protection

"Gov’t Defends Draft “State of Emergency” Law; Rights Groups Remain Concerned", 2 April 2020

A Cambodian government spokesperson defended the draft “State of Emergency” legislation …, calling the use of the soon-to-be-passed “historic” law as inevitable.

The newly-proposed law on declaring a national emergency would potentially give Cambodian government sweeping powers and unlimited access to martial power to enforce an emergency, while vastly controlling the citizenry’s online and offline activities.

The draft legislation would allow for the curtailment of civil rights and liberties, such as freedom of movement, expression, association, and assembly – all enshrined in the Cambodian Constitution – and widely criticized by rights groups.

Phay Siphan, a government spokesperson, said the law was intended as a good measure to direct Cambodia through any emergency, going on to extol its importance…

The draft “state of emergency” law has received strong criticism from civil society members, human rights defenders, …

While Amnesty International said in a statement the law would obliterate human rights in the country, Human Rights Watch called it a “recipe for dictatorship.”

“These unprecedented powers are wildly disproportionate and threaten to permanently undercut the human rights of everyone in Cambodia,” said Nicholas Bequelin, regional director for Amnesty International, in the statement.

The law enables declaring of a state of emergency in the case of war, foreign invasion, health crises like pandemics, but also the vaguely-defined scenario of “severe chaos to national security and social order.”

…“The Cambodian government should withdraw its draft state of emergency law, which would empower Prime Minister Hun Sen to override fundamental human rights protections,” said Human Rights Watch…