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Ministry: Draft law on access to information in ‘final’ stage

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Information minister Khieu Kanharith leads a meeting to review the draft law on access to information on July 1. INFORMATION MINISTRY

Ministry: Draft law on access to information in ‘final’ stage

The Ministry of Information is finalising a draft law on access to information to be submitted to the Council of Ministers, following the completion of technical consultation with the Ministry of Justice.

Information ministry spokesman Meas Sophorn told The Post on July 4 that what remains now is the final approval from both ministers at the next inter-ministerial meeting.

Sophorn noted that information minister Khieu Kanharith led an internal meeting on July 1 to assess the progress of the ministry’s technical working group and also looked into several requests made by civil society organisations (CSOs) in relation to the draft law.

He added that in the previous inter-ministerial meeting, the justice ministry reviewed the issue of penalty in the draft law to make sure it is not different from the existing law or the Criminal Code.

The drafting of the law, he said, took some time to complete as it had been open to consultations with all relevant stakeholders including the UN Office in Cambodia, UNESCO, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Cambodia, and CSOs.

“The delay in the draft law was also impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic,” he added.

Sophorn confirmed that the information ministry and relevant institutions still continued their effort to review the draft law and encouraged the submission to the Council of Ministers as soon as possible.

Cambodian Journalists Alliance (CamboJA) executive director Nop Vy said CSOs have been urging the ministry to speed up the process of approving the draft law.

“CSOs request that their inputs – as detailed in their proposal to [Prime Minister Hun Sen] and the information ministry – be included in the draft law.

“It includes consideration over the content of some articles of the draft law, especially with regards to confidential information,” he said.

Kanharith led the July 1 technical working group meeting after 33 CSOs requested an intervention by Hun Sen to push for the completion of the draft law.

The minister expressed his dismay, saying that some of the CSOs – which had participated in the review, consultation and revision of the draft law over the years and even agreed to it – are now seemingly moving backwards.

“A bill that can be passed needs to be in line with international law and the actual situation in the country. More importantly, the political situation,” he said.

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