Legal analysis

Cambodia: Draft Law on Access to Information

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ARTICLE 19

20 Sep 2011

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Executive Summary

The Cambodian Draft Law on Access to Information (the "Draft Law") marks a positive step towards the comprehensive protection of the right to freedom of information in Cambodia.

ARTICLE 19 welcomes what is clearly a serious attempt to meet international and comparative standards, with a number of provisions offering the region a fine model of how Right to Information (RTI) legislation can be effectively formulated: a public interest test, for example, and provisions on proactive disclosure and the protection of whistleblowers.

The Draft Law contains all the main features that are expected from an effective RTI law: an independent oversight body, for example, and an Information Disclosure Tribunal. It should therefore be emphasised that our recommendations are minor suggestions for improving the law.

The following are our key recommendations:

  1. The Draft Law should emphasise the status of freedom of information as a human right, and state the presumption that all information held by public bodies will be subjected to disclosure.
  2. The Draft Law should clearly indicate that it covers all branches and levels of government.
  3. The Draft Law should simplify procedures for accessing information and should not allow information to be classified for more than 10 years.
  4. Fees for accessing information should be reasonable, and the media, NGOs and individuals on a low income should not be charged.

ARTICLE 19 suggests that by adopting these provisions Cambodia can bring full transparency to its governance, comply with its international obligations as a signatory of the ICCPR and the UN Convention Against Corruption, and join the fast-growing international community of more than 90 states that have adopted RTI legislation.

ARTICLE 19 therefore urges the Royal Government of Cambodia and all political parties to support the Draft Law and to ensure that it is enacted. ARTICLE 19 further calls for the Government and all stakeholders to promote public understanding of the provisions before and after they have been enacted.

This analysis is a collaboration between ARTICLE 19 and the Advocacy and Policy Institute (API) in Cambodia. 

 

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