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Information Freedom Finds Support: Report

A coalition of 18 organizations issued 15,000 booklets Monday that were aimed at raising awareness of the attitude and intentions toward freedom of information of the country's 11 competing political parties.

"The Platform Summary for Freedom of Information on the Eleven Political Parties Participating in the National Election," a 16-page summary of each party's political position on freedom of information, will be distributed to non-governmental agencies, political parties and voters, the group said.

All of the parties reported in the summary said they supported the passage of a law on the freedom of information, which was drafted in July 2007.

"The Freedom of Information Law is very important for Cambodians, because it allows citizens to have admission to information held in public bodies, whether the local commune council or a government department," according to a statement by the Advocacy and Policy Institute.

The Institute published the platform survey in conjunction with the Freedom of Information Working Group, which includes 18 organizations, including election monitors and prominent rights groups.

The law would "give the right for people to know about budgets and the cost of projects, for the media to have access to information on the procurement of ministerial projects, for members of parliament and government officials to have more access to information held by public institutions for investigations and audits," the institute said.

"Awareness of the freedom of information in Cambodia is limited," said Yung Kim Eng, president of the People's Center for Development and Peace, which was part of the working group. "It is very difficult to get important information, such as a draft law or national budget or contract on economic land concessions."