Working Towards an Access to Information Law in Cambodia: Bridging the Government and Citizens for Participatory Law-making

How?

Together with all partners and with financial support from Sweden, the Project seeks to strengthen CSOs space, access to information, free, independent and pluralistic media, through consultative and fully participatory legal drafting of a Law on Access to Information and training of professional journalists and media workers..

The focus of the project is on:


Inauguration ceremony of 2nd training for professional journalists and media workers, Phnom Penh, 7 September 2016. © UNESCO/Chhay Sophal

Establish a functioning and capable Technical Working Group to draft an Access to Information Law.

A Technical Working Group and an Inter-ministerial Committee were formed. The Technical Working Group, composing of relevant government officials, CSOs, OHCHR and UNESCO and with the Secretariat under the Ministry of Information, is meeting every two months on average and formulates the draft law. UNESCO, in close cooperation with the Ministry of Information, trained the members of the Technical Working Group to equip them with the tools and knowledge to develop and debate a legislation which is applicable to Cambodia and has a sound basis in the country context.


Discussion forum on A2I in health sector, 11 November 2015. © UNESCO/Chhay Sophal

Promote participatory law-making and to provide a bridge between the government and the public for discussion on the drafting of the Access to Information law.

The public will proactively participates and shares with the government their information needs and have an opportunity to provide feedback on the draft law. Over three years, twenty-one sectoral forums covering 7 thematic issues and 18 public forums covering all 5 regions of Cambodia have been implemented to gather input and feedback on the law. The forums act as a bridge for the citizens to voice public concerns and information needs which are being incorporated into the draft law. Noticeably, for the first time in Cambodia, the draft Law is presented for general public comments in Khmer and English on an official website: www.a2i.info.gov.kh


Media forum on A2I, Phnom Penh, 22 September 2016. © UNESCO/Chhay Sophal

Increase demand for the Access to Information law through the training of media professionals and implementation of an advocacy campaign.

The trainings focus on investigative reporting and journalism code of ethics, and aim to create a core group (i.e. 30 journalists up to now, 15 more ongoing) of well-trained journalists. Journalist are trained on Access to Information, Investigative Reporting, Code of Ethics. A web platform is forging an online community to read, discuss and promote A2I issues locally and nationally. Radio dramas, radio spots, and a radio talk show are produced to create increased demand for A2I from the public. Information is also spread through web campaign and, for remote areas, thanks to an information bus.

Where:

The project is being implemented in Cambodia.

When:

     30 May 2014          31 March 2018    


 

 

Establishment of a drafting committee that proposed a zero draft and eventually proposes updates before each TWG;



 

 

Establishment of a TWG on A2I gathering public authorities, UN and CSOs that has been discussing and approving provisions of the draft A2I Law;



 

 

Establishment of a Preparatory WG (UN, experts, CSOs) discussing articles before TWG;



 

 

Establishment of an interactive website from the Ministry of Information displaying info on A2I and allowing comments of the draft in both Khmer and English;



 

 

8 training sessions of TWG members on a range of issues related to A2I, one training session for the members of the inter-ministerial WG & 5 training sessions for Commune Council members;



 

 

Three 6-month trainings of 15 to 20 professional journalists and media workers to investigative work, A2I and ethics by Cambodian Communication Institute (CCI);



 

Organization of sectoral forums (Advocacy Policy Institute –API), community forums (Women Media Center of Cambodia-WMC), media forums (Cambodian Center for Independent Media-CCIM) and editors’ forum (Cambodian Club of Journalists-CCJ) to gather concern, experiences and expectations on A2I as well as comments on existing draft Law;



 

 

Production of learning video documentaries and radio talk shows by WMC and CCIM;



 

 

Analysis of Cambodian legal framework (214 laws, 622 sub decrees, 48 Prakas) identifying policy gaps on information disclosure in several sectors.



 

Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA)

Sida is a government agency working on behalf of the Swedish parliament and government, with the mission to reduce poverty in the world. SIDA works in order to implement the Swedish development policy that will enable poor people to improve their lives. Another part of its mission is conducting reform cooperation with Eastern Europe, which is financed through a specific appropriation. The third part of SIDA's assignment is to distribute humanitarian aid to people in need of assistance. SIDA carries out enhanced development cooperation with a total of 33 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America. The selection of cooperation countries are based on political decisions made by the Swedish government.

Ministry of Information

The Ministry of Information is the Cambodian governmental institution in charge of presenting a draft Law on Access to Information (A2I) to the Council of Ministers. It therefore leads the law drafting process, presides the drafting committee and the Technical Working Group on A2I and ensures its secretariat.

United Nations Office of the High Commissioner Human Rights in Cambodia (OHCHR)

Established in October 1993, OHCHR operates in Cambodia at the request of successive United Nations resolutions, and with the agreement of the Royal Government. The Office is mandated to work closely with the Government, civil society organizations and interested Member States to support the Government’s duty to meet its obligations under the human rights treaties it has ratified.

The Advocacy and Policy Institute (API)

API is a Cambodian non-profit and non-governmental organization established in 2003 which has a mission to serve the long-term democratic and social development needs of Cambodia through the provision of services in the areas of advocacy and policy development. API is one of the leading advocacy capacity building institutions in Cambodia. It organizes advocacy training courses for participants CSOs, community-based organizations, Commune Councils, international organizations, media, trade unions, Government’s institutions and the Cambodian Parliament. It also produces advocacy publications that provide advocates and lobbyist with a better understanding of advocacy concepts and guidance on how to conduct successful advocacy campaigns. API has also facilitated a number of civil society forums on Cambodian advocacy and policy initiatives that have provided a space for Cambodian advocates to exchange ideas and experiences, increase their knowledge, and establish contacts.

Women’ s Media Center of Cambodia (WMC)

WMC is a media non-governmental and non-profit organization created in 1995 that produces and broadcasts various high quality and innovative radio, television and video education production on gender equality, enhancement and protection of women’s human rights, democratic and inclusive development, governance, transparence and social accountability, rule of law and so on.

Cambodian Communication Institute (CCI)

Initiated by UNESCO, the project was officially signed in 1994 by the UNESCO Representative to Cambodia and Information Minister and inaugurated in 1995. CCI, under the umbrella of the Royal University of Phnom Penh, was established with the purpose of strengthening the public participation in democracy by improving the quality of information through the local media and other information sources and to increase the flow of information through the development of independent press and media in Cambodia.
Since DMC offers a four-year program in journalism for young Cambodian students, CCI has been and is committed to train and equip Cambodian working journalists, editors, media and communication officers (who do not have a formal education in journalism) with journalism and media skills. By so doing, CCI helps working practitioners of mass media build their professional capacity and standard understanding of journalism/communication and to help them serve their readers better as well as their profession.

Cambodian Center for Independent Media (CCIM)

CCIM’s mission aims at promoting democratic governance and human rights enforcement in Cambodia through the development of a pluralistic and independent media environment. CCIM considers that media development plays a critical role in improving democratic governance and enforcement of human rights in Cambodia. The combination of (I) media’s independence from government and other outside influences, (II) promotion of freedom of expression and access to information, (III) representation of the public’s needs to decision-makers and (IV) improvement of the quality of the produced news, is the media development CCIM wants for the country.

Club of Cambodian Journalists (CCJ)

CCJ’s missions are to protect Cambodian journalists against any abuse, promote press freedom, to help Cambodian journalists have power and similar standard as their regional counterparts in term of their professional capabilities, and to foster cooperation among Cambodian journalists and with the regional and international colleagues. CCJ is organizing roundtable discussions, editors’ forums, training courses, annual journalism contest and a media extension project. CCJ issues statement to condemn any kind of abuse against Cambodian journalists and also help Cambodian journalists solve their cases with the plaintiff out of court.

  • Anne Lemaistre
    UNESCO Representative in Cambodia
    Tel.: 855-12 543 000
  • Chhay Sophal
    National Project Officer, Communication and Information Sector (CI)
    Tel.: 855-17 535 535
  • Luc Yniesta
    Project Officer, Communication and Information Sector (CI)