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Government urged to lead ASEAN by adopting Law on Access to Information

(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - Phnom Penh, 12.3.12: ARTICLE 19 welcomes the Cambodian National Assembly's willingness to resume dialogue on access to information and strongly encourages the adoption of the Draft Law on Access to Information (the "Draft Law"), including ARTICLE 19's recommendations.

In the year that Cambodia holds the chair of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), ARTICLE 19 urges the authorities to incorporate the right to information into Cambodia's national legislation.

"The National Assembly's reconsideration of the Draft Law is promising, but the Cambodian government must take this further. The time is ripe for Cambodia to adopt right to information legislation," says Dr Agnès Callamard, ARTICLE 19 Executive Director.

"As ASEAN Chair, it is critical that Cambodia leads by example and provides for the right to access information. The final version of the Draft Law is of a high standard, and if adopted, will make Cambodia the model throughout Southeast Asia and the world," she added.

The Constitution of Cambodia protects freedom of expression for Khmer citizens, but does not expressly protect the right to information.

The Draft Law was initially submitted to the National Assembly on 23 December 2010 by the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, in the midst of mounting pressure by international and national organisations on the government to adopt a law on the right to information.

It was subsequently rejected, with the National Assembly citing 'lack of sufficient detail' as the reasoning. However, ARTICLE 19's analysis showed that the Draft Law contained all the features expected from an effective right to information law and suggested a few recommendations only for further improvements.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
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    Free expression advocates in Cambodia have called on the Cambodian government to draft and enact an access to information law, saying it would enhance the credibility of the government and provide a crucial tool for fighting corruption and poverty.

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