Groups express support for Access to Information Law

Taing Vida / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Information Minister Khieu Kanharith. KT/Chor Sokunthea

Dozens of NGOs on Friday filed letters to Prime Minister Hun Sen and senior government officials appealing for haste in the drafting and passing of the Law on Access to Information.

In the letters, addressed to Mr Hun Sen, National Assembly President Heng Samrin, Senate President Say Chhum and Information Minister Khieu Kanharith, the groups expressed their interest in the promotion of good governance and access to information.

In a joint statement, the groups thanked Mr Kanharith for his efforts in creating an inclusive environment for civil society groups to operate.

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Lam Socheat, director of the Advocacy and Policy Institute, said the Law on Access to Information is intended to ensure public access to information regarding government decisions.

Mr Socheat said the draft law encourages public institutions to publicise and disseminate information with transparency and accountability.

He added that the law also encourages the public to participate in politics and social affairs.

“The government’s reform programmes are in the spotlight of civil society groups who are supporting the promotion of good governance and access to information,” Mr Socheat said. “We truly believe that passing the law is a crucial contribution in increasing trust between the public and the government.”

In the letters, the groups also expressed their support for a statement made by Mr Hun Sen during a gathering with journalists in January, saying that the 1995 Press Law could be amended.

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Information Ministry spokesman Ouk Kimseng yesterday said the law was drafted over the past three years, noting that it is now in its final stages.

“The draft law is currently under examination. A working group has met a couple of times recently to discuss and present their ideas on it,” Mr Kimseng said. “I can’t say how long it will take – it all depends on the discussions.”

Pen Bona, president of the Club of Cambodian Journalists, said the Law on Access to Information will be a bridge connecting journalists with government officials.

“I strongly believe that this law will offer good relations between reporters and government officials,” Mr Bona said. “Officials will no longer have an excuse to deny us when we ask questions. I also believe the Information Ministry is working hard to have this law passed.”

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