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Penal Code Insufficient Under Accords: Rights Leader

A leading Cambodian rights advocate said Monday the penal code passed by the National Assembly does not meet the requirements of the 1991 Paris Peace Accords, as it does not sufficiently safeguard freedoms of assembly and expression.

“I see that some of the articles are still of concern,” said Pung Chiv Kek , founder of the rights group Licadho, as a guest on “Hello VOA.”

The National Assembly passed the new penal code on Monday, but it mostly ignored recommendations from civic groups, she said.

Groups sent “46 points to the National Assembly…but none of it was considered,” she said, including that defamation not be a criminal charge.

In signing the Peace Accords in October 1991, Cambodia signed onto many conventions and treaties meant to follow human rights norms, including rights in politics, assembly, information, speech and expression, she said.

Laws limiting freedoms can hurt development, she added, as sometimes people need to voice their concerns if they find themselves victims of legal violations.

Still, she thanked the government for passing the code, an improvement over Untac laws that had been followed in the meantime.