Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Access to information law site goes online

Access to information law site goes online

People browse the internet yesterday at a cafe in Phnom Penh. The Ministry of Information has launched a website to gather feedback from the public regarding a freedom of information law.
People browse the internet yesterday at a cafe in Phnom Penh. The Ministry of Information has launched a website to gather feedback from the public regarding a freedom of information law. Hong Menea

Access to information law site goes online

In an apparent move towards transparency, the Ministry of Information launched a website where visitors can post opinions and suggestions for a long-awaited freedom of information law, though an observer yesterday cautioned the suggestions will need to be heeded for the initiative to be judged a success.

The website which went live yesterday, www.a2i.info.gov.kh, made in conjunction with UNESCO with support from the Swedish government, features drafts of the upcoming public information law with comment sections where “visitors can write comments or requests for each article”, according to MoI spokesman Ouk Kimseng. The law, which was first proposed over 10 years ago, is expected to be fully drafted by 2018, he said.

According to UNESCO communication specialist Jamie Lee, the site is part of a three-year drafting process between UNESCO, the MoI and Sweden. The collaborative group, known as the A2I Technical Working Group, convenes with public and private organisations monthly to discuss the law, she said.

UNESCO hopes this will serve as “a model for drafting legislation in Cambodia in the future”, said Lee. “So far, it has been a great collaboration.”

“An ideal access to information legislation in Cambodia will promote maximum disclosure and open government; have limited scope for exceptions; and protect whistle-blowers,” she added.

Andreas Johansson, first secretary at the Swedish Embassy, said that while Sweden was “not directly involved in the drafting of the law”, he described his government’s nearly $1 million financial assistance to the drafting process as part of Sweden’s “strong rights-based profile in its support to Cambodia”.

Chak Sopheap, executive director of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, called the website “a positive and remarkable move given the government’s recent history in withholding drafts of the law”, she said. Sopheap has criticised the government for failing to successfully draft a freedom of information law.

“Yet, for this initiative to truly be meaningful, the feedback must be taken into account in the final version of the law, otherwise it will be meaningless; simply another empty gesture by the government,” said Sopheap.

Parallel to the access to information law, the Interior Ministry has also, since January 2015, been concocting a state secrecy law.

Rights groups have expressed concern at the possibility of the country passing such legislation before a freedom of information law is put into place.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hong Kong firm done buying Coke Cambodia

    Swire Coca-Cola Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Swire Pacific Ltd, on November 25 announced that it had completed the acquisition of The Coca-Cola Co’s bottling business in Cambodia, as part of its ambitions to expand into the Southeast Asian market. Swire Coca-Cola affirmed

  • Cambodia's Bokator now officially in World Heritage List

    UNESCO has officially inscribed Cambodia’s “Kun Lbokator”, commonly known as Bokator, on the World Heritage List, according to Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona in her brief report to Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of November 29. Her report, which was

  • NagaWorld union leader arrested at airport after Australia trip

    Chhim Sithar, head of the Labour Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees at NagaWorld integrated casino resort, was arrested on November 26 at Phnom Penh International Airport and placed in pre-trial detention after returning from a 12-day trip to Australia. Phnom Penh Municipal Court Investigating Judge

  • Angkor Beer, 30 Years of Prestige and Still Counting

    Let’s celebrate 30 years of prestige with Angkor Beer. In this 2022, Angkor Beer is 30 years old and has been staying with Cambodian hearts in all circumstances. Head of core beer portfolio, EmYuthousaid, “We have been with Cambodians for three decades now. We, ANGKOR Beer, pride

  • Sub-Decree approves $30M for mine clearance

    The Cambodian government established the ‘Mine-Free Cambodia 2025 Foundation’, and released an initial budget of $30 million. Based on the progress of the foundation in 2023, 2024 and 2025, more funds will be added from the national budget and other sources. In a sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen

  • Two senior GDP officials defect to CPP

    Two senior officials of the Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) have asked to join the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), after apparently failing to forge a political alliance in the run-up to the 2023 general election. Yang Saing Koma, chairman of the GDP board, and Lek Sothear,