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Students demand to see internet law

More than 200 university students yesterday called on the government to publicly release the latest version of the controversial cybercrime law, amid fears it will lead to a clampdown on their currently unrestricted use of social media sites like Facebook.

While a draft of the law was leaked earlier this year, the government needs to clarify what stage the law is at, Soeung Saroeun, executive director of the Cooperation Committee for Cambodia, which represents NGOs, told students at a Cambodian Youth Network (CYN) forum.

“We don’t know where it is. First, we heard it was within the Council of Ministers, and later with the Ministry of Telecommunications, then with the Ministry of Interior,” he said.

“Then we heard it was being reviewed by a son of Prime Minister Hun Sen [Hun Manet] who has counterterrorism expertise.”

The CYN also released a statement calling on the government to consult with the public on the law.

“This draft law does not fully respect human rights in terms of freedom of expression,” the statement says, adding that as proposed chairman of the National Anti-Cybercrime Committee, the law’s implementation would be subject to the “political will” of Hun Sen.

Chun Srey Phea, a 22-year-old philosophy student at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, said provisions in the leaked draft, which would criminalise content undermining “political cohesiveness” and “nonfactual” content that affects the “integrity” of government agencies, had left her concerned.

“I like to share information from the Facebook pages of Radio Free Asia and Voice of America and also criticise the government for failing to solve this or that,” she said.

“I’m not scared; however, if a law is passed, it will affect my right to express my opinion.”

Neither Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan nor Minister for Posts and Telecommunications Prak Sokhon could be reached.

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