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CSOs calling for prompt info access law drafting

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Civil society organisation representatives submitted a petition to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Cabinet in Chaktomuk commune of the capital’s Daun Penh district on June 16. Heng Chivoan

CSOs calling for prompt info access law drafting

A group of 33 civil society organisations (CSOs) urged the intervention of Prime Minister Hun Sen to expedite the draft law on “access to information”.

The Ministry of Information, meanwhile, claimed to be accelerating the process, with an additional review meeting set to take place next week.

In their June 16 letter to the Prime Minister’s Cabinet, more than 10 officials representing the 33 CSOs said there had been little progress since the draft was completed in 2018.

“We would like to thank the government for showing its willingness in the past, especially the prime minister’s commitment. When meeting with journalists in 2020, [Hun Sen] urged the information ministry to expedite the draft law,” read the letter.

“As the prime minister is already aware, there has been little positive progress since the draft was completed in January 2018,” it added.

Cabinet official Kong Chamroeun appeared to receive the letter at around 10am on the same day, but made no comment.

Advocacy and Policy Institute director Lam Socheat said submitting the letter was a way of expressing support for the premier’s 2020 speech.

“The Prime Minister’s Cabinet has received the letter and it was copied to the ministries of Information and of Justice. We hope the CSOs’ input will be considered, and the law will be passed soon,” he said.

Ith Sothoeut, acting director of the Cambodian Centre for Independent Media, said: “We are urging the law be passed soon to share our view that it is very important to facilitate government reform to strengthen the rule of law – as well as democracy – in Cambodia.”

Information ministry spokesman Meas Sophorn told The Post that the draft law had been completed at the technical working group level between the information and justice ministries.

He added that the information ministry is preparing a document related to the law to be submitted for a meeting between the leaders of the two ministries. The ministers would make their final recommendations before it was submitted to the Council of Ministers and then the legislature.

“We will meet next week to discuss it and will wait for the result of the meeting before we continue,” he said.

He said the draft was open to consultation with all stakeholders, and so there were many comments that had to be weighed up, adding that this was a time-consuming task, particularly during the previous years’ Covid-19 restrictions.

“All of the institutions had to comply with health regulations; therefore, the draft was prolonged sometime in its process,” he said.

The draft law on access to information has nine chapters and 36 articles and was designed to ensure that the public have the right to access information from state institutions, in accordance with the Kingdom’s Constitution.

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