The Rights to Free Expression is Essential in a Real Democracy

OPINION Letter to the Cambodia Daily
Published on September 01 2006
BY: CHAK Sopheap

It was unbelievable that the lawmakers voted for a new law allowing themselves to be charged with criminal offenses without their immunity first being lifted; (“Legislators vote to Limit their Own Speech,” Thursday, page 1).

The right to free expression is fundamental to achieve real democracy, as stated in the Constitution and International Human rights conventions.

The new law will be used as a tool to silence parliamentarians. It is similar to the UNTAC Law on criminal defamation that was used to detain government critics late last year.

The new law seems to contradict the Constitution, which states that no assembly member shall be prosecuted, detained or arrested because of opinions expressed during the exercise of his or her duties.

How can parliamentarians exercise their duties when they fear arrest, especially when the law does not define what constitutes the abuses of an individual’s dignity, social customs, public order and national security?

Democracy is uncertain for Cambodia.

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