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Official pushes for an information access act

Official pushes for an information access act

Many groups, including the ruling party, would benefit from a proposed access to information law – which would provide transparency when it comes to the government’s development plans and spending – a Council of Ministers official said yesterday.

Tuot Lux, a legal expert who has been overseeing the government’s development of an information access policy, said it was time for Cambodia to consider adopting a corresponding law.

“I see that the creation of such a law would be very beneficial to the nation,” he said, during a seminar on transparency and access to information in the capital yesterday.

The public’s access to information is an important part of a democratic society, he said, which is why the government should provide details of public budget plans and local
development.

“The objectives of this law would be to ensure transparency and accountability,” he said.

The government’s access to information policy, which the Ministry of Interior began developing in 2007, is on the verge of being sent to the Council of Ministers for adoption, but that does not mean a corresponding law is forthcoming, Lux said.

The opposition Sam Rainsy Party had proposed a draft law some years ago, but the National Assembly rejected it, Lux said.

“I think that [draft] was not on the right track,” he said, referring to the issue of how those found to have falsified public documents would be dealt with.

SRP spokesman Yim Sovann, however, said his party’s proposed draft law had been developed with contributions from the UN and civil society groups.

Preap Kol, executive director of Transparency International in Cambodia, said he supported an access to information law and hoped that, if adopted, it would give greater transparency to the national budget, commune development projects and basic statistics about Cambodia’s demographics.

“This law is essential if the government wants to promote transparency – a hallmark of good governance,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Chhay Channyda at [email protected]
With assistance from Shane Worrell

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