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No "permission" required to hold peaceful assemblies, Cambodian authorities reminded

The Cambodian Center for Human Rights ("CCHR") has addressed an open letter to His Excellency Sar Kheng Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior regarding the implementation of the Law on Peaceful Demonstration.

According to the Phnom Penh Post's article "Police put brakes on ride," on Saturday 16 August 2014 the Meanchey district deputy governor was quoted saying that "if they want to protect the environment, we ask that they apply for permission from Phnom Penh Municipal Hall and I believe City Hall will allow them, but they have not asked for permission." [As the letter explains, the incident he was referring to involved a group of around 30 environmental activists who had organized a ride to raise awareness about a planned hydropower dam in Koh Kong province's Areng Valley - they were blocked by security forces].

Article 5 of the Law on Peaceful Demonstration states that "Any group of individuals who wishes to organize a peaceful assembly at any public venue shall notify the competent municipal or provincial territorial authorities in charge of that place in writing" and Article 10 states that "If the competent municipal or provincial territorial authorities fail to respond by the due date for holding the peaceful assembly, that implies the competent municipal or provincial territorial authorities have approved." As such, the law does not require protesters to get permission from local authorities. The law only requires protesters to notify the relevant authorities. The letter calls on His Excellency Sar Kheng to remind all relevant ministries and local authorities that no "permission" is required under Cambodian law to hold peaceful assemblies.

This letter was also sent to Wan-Hea Lee, Representative of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia.

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