The inter-ministry committee finalised its review of the draft bill on access to information on Friday and plans to submit it to the Council of Ministers in January before it is sent to the National Assembly.

Ministry of Information spokesman Phos Sovann told The Post: “We are still working with the Ministry of Justice on the matter of penalties and might send it to the Council of Ministers in January.”

Sovann said the matter of penalties is for the Ministry of Justice to decide so that it fits with other penalties of the criminal and civil codes.

“It does not mean that [after] the inter-ministry meeting had concluded, it is done.

“The bill needs to be made clearer by the relevant ministries because some officials are newcomers … We have to prevent small issues from occurring and had set November 27 as the last round for comments,” Sovann said.

Ministry of Information under-secretary of state Meas Sophorn said in the meeting that the inter-ministry committee had approved the bill draft after they discussed and changed some words, but the content of the draft remains untouched.

“The bill ensures the improvement of good governance and matches development with transparency and accountability.

“Once enacted, the new law on access to information will provide rights and freedom to the public to take part in improving good governance.

“We will try to accelerate the discussion and remaining work and submit the draft bill to the Council of Ministers as soon as possible,” he said.

Cambodian Centre for Independent Media director Nob Vy welcomed the news that the review had been finalised.

“If the content of the draft law has remained the same, it is a good sign because the original content serves the public interest.

“The faster it is sent to the Council of Ministers, the better,” he said.

In 2013, the government permitted the Ministry of Information to take the lead in drafting the bill. It worked with 32 other ministries and stakeholders for reviews.

The bill consists of nine Chapters and 38 Articles.