Two years since the Human Rights Council adopted Resolution 42/37 on advisory services and technical assistance for Cambodia, ARTICLE 19 observes that the situation of freedom of expression, access to information, and freedom of peaceful assembly has reached a new low. The government of Cambodia has taken decisive steps to suppress critical and dissenting voices, the independent media, civil society organisations, environmental activists, and peaceful protesters.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the protection of fundamental freedoms has worsened as authorities imposed unduly restrictive policies and laws to the detriment of public participation and civic space. Further repressive legislation is being advanced by the government and could impede freedom of expression even further.
Independent journalists, environmental activists, and peaceful protesters have faced physical violence, threats, judicial harassment, and imprisonment. Government restrictions on the freedom of expression—often presented by the government as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic—have far exceeded those permissible under international human rights law. This systematic attack on public discourse and dissenting voices is eroding the confidence of Cambodians in their ability to safely exercise their rights and encouraging widespread self-censorship.
ARTICLE 19 urges the Human Rights Council to adopt a strong resolution calling on the government of Cambodia to prioritise legal reform and to guarantee the rights to freedom of expression, access to information, and peaceful assembly in the country.
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Matthew Bugher, Head of Asia Programme, [email protected].