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Groups call for FOI draft policy approval

A COALITION of 19 local and international organisations yesterday called on the government to sign off on a draft freedom of information policy as part of a wider effort to increase government transparency.

Yong Kim Eng, president of the People’s Centre for Development and Peace, said the coalition was “lobbying the government to approve the draft policy because it is a guideline for the creation of a law on freedom of information”.

“There are difficult obstacles nowadays for lawmakers or ordinary people to get public documents from government ministries because we do not have a freedom of information law,” he said during a press conference yesterday.

The unavailability of basic information makes it easier for officials to overcharge people for basic services like birth registration, he said.

Suon Sareth, secretary general of the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee, said the government appeared to be taking its time to approve the policy because of its “sensitive” nature. “It is sensitive to reveal information about budget management. It is their corruption that they do not want to show,” he said.

However, he went on to praise the government for its decision to publish road tax fees.

Som Kim Suor, minister of National Assembly-Senate Relations, said the draft policy was still under review by her ministry. She said she could not confirm when it would be sent to the Council of Ministers, but pledged that the government would approve the policy by 2013.

“Even though we do not have the policy yet, we can use the Press Law on this issue for now,” she said.

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