Proposed election laws drafted in Cambodia’s National Assembly limit freedom of speech, assembly and a host of other rights, a statement released by Human Rights Watch (HRW) yesterday says.
The release criticises the Cambodian People’s Party and Cambodia National Rescue Party for drafting legislation that includes such elements as a ban on “insults” to political parties by NGOs, and a shortening of campaign and rally periods.
“It’s hardly surprising that the CPP proposed these provisions, but the CNRP shares the blame for agreeing to criminalize and censor speech and limit the public’s right to hold campaign rallies,” HRW Asia director Brad Adams is quoted as saying.
HRW also took issue with the fact that the proposed laws were drafted between the CPP and CNRP without any consultation or the participation of civil society. But CPP officials have repeatedly rebuffed criticisms from other civil society groups making similar complaints, saying that NGOs hold no place in the government.
CNRP MP Eng Chhay Eang, who helped draft the prospective laws, yesterday called them imperfect, but defended them as an improvement.
“In this proposed law, at least we have new [National Election Committee] members; before, NEC members were from only one party,” Chhay Eang said yesterday. “We have a new voter registration system, for which all voters need IDs.”
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CHHAY CHANNYDA