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Laws almost always drafted in secrecy in Cambodia, without inclusion of key stakeholders

On 4 August 2014, the Cambodian Center for Human Rights ("CCHR") released a Briefing Note on freedom of information and legislative transparency in the Kingdom of Cambodia ("Cambodia"), where laws are almost always drafted in secrecy, without the inclusion of relevant stakeholders. The lack of transparency, combined with the absence of a comprehensive law governing freedom of information, means that Cambodians are unable to fully participate in the political life of their country, and legislators are free to pass laws that are unfavorable to the general public with only weak resistance. The first section of the Briefing Note offers a definition of legislative transparency and provides a background on the concerns expressed by civil society members regarding the way in which legislation is drafted in Cambodia. The second section discusses the freedom of information legal framework by examining current domestic and international laws. The third section discusses access to information in practice and offers three case studies to demonstrate related problems.

Finally, the last section offers CCHR's conclusions and recommendations to the RGC for improving legislative transparency in Cambodia, which include (1) publically and widely releasing draft laws and organizing genuine and meaningful consultation in order to allow civil society organizations, lawyers and other legal professionals, technical experts, and the general public to comment, with ample time for analysis of and feedback on draft legislation; (2) addressing and incorporating feedback given by CSOs and others on draft laws, and provide a rationale when certain feedback cannot be incorporated into laws; and (3) enacting a freedom of information law in a timely manner, in accordance with international treaties to which Cambodia is a signatory, and also in line with internationally accepted standards.

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