Cambodia’s National Assembly, controlled by Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), announced that the government had passed a new emergency law to address the growing concern of COVID-19 in the country. Human Right experts internationally have expressed deep concerns about the approved legislation the “Law on National Administration in the State of Emergency” stating that it will deepen human right violations in the country and is a façade to further entrench the Hun Sen regime.
The approved legislation allows a state of emergency to be declared in a range of scenarios and for an unrestricted period of time—in this case, in response to a public health crisis. Article 5 of the new legislation uses the frontage of social-distancing measures and mandatory isolation to impose autocratic restrictions on people’s civil rights. Included in article 5 are prohibitions on the congregation of people, which human right experts worry will impinge on the right to freedom of assembly and association long after the COVID-19 crisis ends. On top of this, the legislation affords the Hun Sen administration unlimited surveillance of telecommunications and the capacity to seize private property.