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Rights Party Attacks Demonstration Draft

Human Rights Party President Kem Sokha blasted a new draft law on demonstration that he said would limit the rights of Cambodians to freedom of assembly, especially in seeking redress to governmental wrongdoing.

The draft law has received widespread condemnation from rights groups, especially a clause that limits the number of demonstrators to 200 participants and the time of gatherings from 6 am to 6 pm. The draft law also focuses more responsibility on demonstration organizers “if the demonstration becomes violent and destroys public or private property.”

“The human rights party cannot accept this new draft law on demonstrations, as it is not serving the interest of people or democracy, but the ruling [Cambodian People’s Party] interest,” Kem Sokha said.

The party would seek laws that open more rights and freedoms if it wins July’s general election, he said.

“The new draft law on demonstrations is not widely democratic for the people to express and protest on their grievances and concerns,” said Ny Chakrya, chief of Adhoc’s rights investigation unit.

The people have a right to push the government to solve such issues as the judiciary, corruption, poverty and land disputes, he said.

Prime Minister Hun Sen has welcomed the draft, saying it does not limit peaceful demonstration but helps authorities protect “national security, public order,…public health [and] morale [and] rights and freedom of other people.”