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Access to Information Law needed in Cambodia

More than 150 representatives from national and local government, embassies and civil society groups came together for a workshop on access to information hosted by ARTICLE 19 and The Advocacy and Policy Institute on 4-5 December 2013. The aim of the workshop was to discuss developing an approach to secure access to information legislation in the country.

The national workshop was organised following the July 2013 national elections to identify strategies and next steps in order to ensure the passage of an access to information law becomes a priority for the ruling party of the Royal Government of Cambodia, as it enters its fifth mandate. Speaking at the workshop, Dave Banisar (Senior Legal Counsel, ARTICLE 19) emphasised the importance of a broad partnership between a wide range of interest groups in the drafting, passage and implementation of a Cambodian access to information law.

"Cambodia has a vibrant civil society that is increasingly asking to access to information that is held by the authorities, so that they can then make more informed decisions about their lives and communities," said Thomas Hughes, ARTICLE 19's Executive Director.

"It is time that the royal government of Cambodia listened to the Cambodian people and those working in their interests. We urge the government to work with civil society groups to pass an access to information law sooner rather than later," Hughes continued.

National discussion and active campaigning for an access to information law has been on-going for more than a decade. Draft laws have been submitted to the National Assembly on two separate occasions in 2007 and 2012 respectively. In both instances, these laws were rejected.

ARTICLE 19 provided a detailed legal analysis of the draft access to information law in 2011. In this analysis, ARTICLE 19 found the draft to contain all the main features that are expected from an effective RTI law, contrary to the National Assembly's rejection of it as problematic.

The national workshop was held with the support of the European Union.

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