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Cyber laws: Tools for protecting or restricting freedom of expression?

On 27 February 2014, the Cambodian Center for Human Rights ("CCHR") released a Briefing Note focused on the drafting of the Kingdom of Cambodia's ("Cambodia") first ever Cyber Crimes Law (the "Law"), initially announced in May 2012. This Briefing Note summarizes the current internet landscape in Cambodia, the worldwide increase in cyber-crimes, and the ways in which cyberspace can be legislated, and offers concrete recommendations to the Royal Government of Cambodia (the "RGC") on the draft Law to ensure it complies with international human rights standards and guarantees the right to freedom of expression. The Law is expected to be passed in the first half of 2014, although requests from civil society to review the draft have thus far been denied.

The Briefing Note concludes with recommendations to the RGC regarding the content of the draft Law, including: (1) publicly and widely publishing the draft of the Law to allow for genuine consultation with sufficient time for analysis and comments on the draft by relevant stakeholders such as civil society organizations; (2) ensuring that sufficient time is taken to draft the Law, including providing ample time for lawmakers, civil society organizations ("CSOs") and technical experts to read drafts and provide feedback, as well as a period to address and incorporate this feedback; (3) establishing an open forum or national congress in order to let CSOs, human rights activists, bloggers, individuals who work with new media, Internet Service Providers ("ISPs") and programmers discuss their needs and raise their concerns with the RGC, and using their input to inform the contents of the Law; (4) clearly and explicitly stating the extent of restrictions made through the Law and by the RGC, including narrowly and unambiguously defining content that is going to be deemed 'illegal' so as to avoid the possibility of abusive interpretation; and (5) establishing an independent working group made up of (inter alia) technical experts, members of CSOs and academics to properly investigate and analyze website content prior to prosecution or blocking requests and before it is forwarded to the judiciary.

Download CCHR's Briefing Note.
cambodia_cyber_crimes_legislation_cchr.pdf (610 KB)

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