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Gov’t warns citizens to respect King online

The government yesterday warned citizens to respect King Norodom Sihamoni in social media commentary.

“The use of freedom of expression must be in accordance with the law but must not affect the absolute institution of the King [who shields] and provides shade to all Khmer citizens,” the Council of Ministers’ statement reads, noting that articles 7 and 8 of the constitution state that criticising the King is illegal.

The warning then backpedals, acknowledging the government recognises the rights of expression and freedom of the press outlined in the constitution and the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights.

Prominent blogger and social media consultant Kounila Keo cautioned against making exceptions to freedom of speech on matters of principle.

“Article 41 of the Constitution … guarantees Khmer citizens the right to freely express their opinions.… It is when we make exceptions on matters of principle that we start down a slippery slope by expanding state control over speech,” she said yesterday.

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