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Govt rejects criticisms of demonstration law

Govt rejects criticisms of demonstration law

THE MINISTRY of Interior on Sunday dismissed complaints  from civil society groups regarding a new draft law on peaceful demonstrations.

"Every procedure that is written in the draft law on demonstrations will be adopted according to international procedures and is similar to laws in developed countries that exercise democracy," ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said Sunday, echoing a statement issued by the ministry on Friday.

Under the draft law, currently at the National Assembly, demonstrations involving more than 200 people would need to take place between 6am and 6pm. The law would also place restrictions on protest locations and would make organisers responsible for any damage to public property inflicted by participants.

The president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association, Rong Chhun, said Sunday that he feared the law could be used to silence critics.

"For example, if I want to hold a demonstration at the Ministry of Education, but the authorities say the location for the demonstration needs to be very far away from the ministry, and there are no pedestrians walking near the demonstration, then the demonstration means nothing and our demands will not be heard," he said.

Yim Sovann, spokesman for the Sam Rainsy Party, said opposition lawmakers would call for amendments to the draft law that would eliminate restrictions on the size and location of demonstrations. 

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