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‘Space for fundamental freedom remains restricted’

‘Space for fundamental freedom remains restricted’

The space to practice fundamental freedom continues to be restricted in the Kingdom, a joint report by three civil society organisations (CSOs) which was published on Thursday revealed.

The Cambodian Centre for Human Rights (CCHR), Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (Adhoc) and the Solidarity Centre (SC) published the “Third Annual Report of the Cambodia Fundamental Freedoms Monitor” under the Fundamental Freedoms Monitoring Project (FFMP).

The first and second editions of the report were published in August 2017 and September last year, respectively.

In a joint press release, the CSOs said the report provides “a comprehensive overview of the exercise of freedom of association, of expression and assembly in the Kingdom” during the third year of monitoring, from April 1 last year to March 31.

The report highlighted key developments regarding the shrinking of space for“fundamental freedoms”.

The new legislative amendments have further curtailed fundamental freedoms, it said.

The report also pointed out that laws governing the exercise of fundamental freedoms continue to be implemented arbitrarily.

Moreover, it said, “there has been a further decrease in the public’s ability to practise fundamental freedoms”.

The report said, “high percentages of the Cambodian public still display low confidence in seeking redress for human rights violations and perceive that accessing government authorities or courts to complain is difficult”.

However, it found that “there seems to be a slight encouraging improvement in the level of confidence in redress for human rights violations and perceived accessibility of complaints mechanisms this year”.

“It is hoped that the Royal Government of Cambodia can continue and strengthen its efforts to improve the accessibility and effectiveness of redress mechanisms,” the CSOs said in the joint statement.

To compile data for the third edition of FFMP’s annual report, between April 1 last year and March 31, the groups received 167 incident reports, polled 992 members of the public across 22 provinces, as well as surveyed 202 CSOs and union leaders.

They also analysed 658 related incidents through media monitoring, the statement said.

Governments spokesperson Phay Siphan partially rejected the conclusion of the report, saying: “The Cambodian government does not restrict fundamental freedoms but needed cooperation with integrity and with stability and peace.”

However, he agreed that high percentages of Cambodians still displayed low confidence in state institutions through which they could seek solutions for human rights violations.

“We want to know what formulas were used to determine the level of confidence in the institutions,” he said.

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