Civil society calls for respect for freedom of expression in Cambodia in support to OSJI

Joint Organizations

March 29, 2007 - The Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC), the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (COMFREL), the Cambodian Committee of Women (CAMBOW), the Alliance for Freedom of Expression in Cambodia (AFEC) and the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (NICFEC) are deeply concerned about the threat made by the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) to expel the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI), an international organization, from the country or to revoke staff visas.

Expulsion of OSJI would be inconsistent with Article 12 (2) of the Agreement between the United Nations and RGC which ensures that “representatives….of national and international non- governmental organizations will at all time have access to the proceedings before the Extraordinary Chambers.” By making this threat the government risks giving the impression to an international audience that it will not allow the activities of ECCC to be properly scrutinized and monitored.

By actively engaging in monitoring the work of the ECCC, we as NGOs and civil society, are benefiting the ECCC in helping to build credibility and confidence in the ECCC and its proceedings. We have a duty to the Cambodian people to assist in securing free, fair and public trials of the Khmer Rouge at the ECCC. To do this effectively, we need to have confidence that there will be no reprisal taken by the RGC against any organization in response to its monitoring activities.

CHRAC, COMFREL, CAMBOW, AFEC, and NICFEC are also concerned that the threat against OSJI continues a disturbing trend of government action against monitors in other sectors of Cambodia. Both the forestry and labor sectors have witnessed the expulsion or threat of expulsion of independent monitors. The chilling effect created by these actions threatens to severely limit freedom of expression, access to information, and ultimately accountability to the public.

We condemn any decisions and actions made by RGC to limit freedom of expression in Cambodia, which is guaranteed by article 41 in the Cambodian Constitution as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Cambodia signed in May 1992. We urge the RGC to promote and ensure freedom of expression in Cambodia and particularly in respect of the ECCC.

For more information, please contact:
 Mr. Thun Saray Chairman of CHRAC/President of ADHOC Tel: 016 880 509
 Ms. Theary Seng Executive Director CSD Tel: 012 222 552
 Mr. Koul Panha Executive Director of COMFREL Tel: 012 942 017
 Dr. Kek Galabru Chairperson of CAMBOW/President of LICADHO Tel: 012 940 645
 Mr. Ou Virak Secretary-General of AFEC Tel: 012 404 051
 Dr. Hang Puthea Executive Director of NICFEC Tel: 012 959 666

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