Spokesperson of Ministry of Information Responds to CSOs’ Concern over Draft Law on Access to Information

AKP Phnom Penh, October 02, 2020 —

H.E. Meas Sophorn, Under Secretary of State and Spokesperson of the Ministry of Information, has responded to a statement of some civil society organisations (CSOs) regarding the draft law on access to information.

This draft law has been in consultation stage with the Ministry of Justice and would be submitted to the Council of Ministers in the near future in accordance with the law drafting procedure, he added.

H.E. Meas Sophorn explained that the Ministry of Information had allowed a wide range of discussions and suggestions from ministries, institutions, different UN agencies in Cambodia (UNESCO and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights) and a number of CSOs through the formation of a Technical Working Group for drafting the Access to Information Law (TWG-A2I).

The drafting process took almost three years to complete, the spokesperson said, underlining that the points raised in the CSOs’ statement had been already discussed vigorously at TWG-A2I’s meetings and members of the TWG-A2I had also agreed on these points.

But, he continued, when the draft law is ready to be submitted for approval (from the Council of Ministers), those CSOs issued a statement re-mentioning those points and commented that this draft law was inconsistent with international standards.

“We can conclude that the fact that the CSOs issued this statement seems to have forgotten their role and responsibilities in participating in the discussions, giving suggestions and agreement in the past [TWG-A2I’s meetings],” he stressed.

The Spokesperson went on to say that the act of those CSOs is only to attract attention ad support and gain popularity for themselves or for their own groups. At the same time, this statement can also be a strategy to get financial support or funds from various sources just to support their activities.

The draft law on access to information has been elaborated after studies of national laws and regulations and researches on access to information laws of many countries in the region and the world, and in accordance with the nine principles related to the right to information as well as the three-part test principle, he emphasised.

The Royal Government of Cambodia and the Ministry of Information want to see this draft law be endorsed before the end of this year, said H.E. Meas Sophorn.

Article in Khmer by Un Rithy
Article in English by Heng Panha