The Ministry of Information yesterday announced a three-year public consultation period on a new access to information draft law that has been in the works since 2007.
But freedom of information advocates greeted the news with scepticism, citing a lack of representation from civil society on the working group drafting the law.
Ouk Kimseng, deputy secretary of the state news agency AKP, said yesterday that the Ministry of Information would soon launch a website where Cambodians can air their views about the current draft law.
“In order to make this work transparent, the ministry will launch a new website to publish information about the process of drafting this law, so that the public can offer comments for or against it before we do a final draft,” he said.
“Sometimes normal people’s ideas can be better than legal experts,” he added. “We will listen to all of it. Let’s see what they think. In general, the ministry welcomes all ideas to make access to information better.”
UNESCO is supporting the project under an agreement backed by a $1 million grant from the Swedish government.
Representatives of UNESCO could not be reached yesterday.
The announcement came exactly a year after the government issued a statement confirming its commitment to passing an access to information law, according to the Advocacy and Policy Institute (API), a local research organisation.
Neb Sinthay, API’s director, cautiously welcomed the Information Ministry’s announcement yesterday.
“To ensure transparency, API plans to continue its work to finish our analysis” of the draft law, he said.
Pa Ngoun Teang, executive director of the Cambodian Centre for Independent Media, said all government financial information should be made public.
“Our group has been pushing for this law for 10 years,” he said. “We think it’s important to force the government to open all information related to their work.”