The Council of Ministers approved Friday a “peaceful demonstration” draft law that allows protesters to hold demonstrations without requesting permission, officials said.
“The draft law is aimed at promoting democracy and giving greater freedom to the people,” Interior Ministry Secretary of State Nouth Sa An said Sunday.
“If they want to hold the demonstration, they just inform the local authorities…. They don’t need to ask permission,” he said.
Under the draft legislation the demonstration’s leader must be identified to take responsibility for any wrongdoing that may occur, he added.
The draft also states that authorities must be notified five days prior to a protest, Nouth Sa An said, adding that demonstrations considered possible threats to national security will not be allowed.
He added, that if passed, the law would establish a “freedom park” area where demonstrations can be held with only 12-hours notice.
CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said Sunday that the draft law is meant to fill in the details of what the Constitution already states more generally.
“The new law will be better than the current one,” he said.
“If there are garment factory demonstrations, there must be people who are responsible…. So they don’t destroy and rob the factories.”
SRP lawmaker Son Chhay said Sunday that the draft law runs contrary to the Constitution by putting limits on freedom of speech.
“It is against the Constitution. The National Assembly must kick the draft law out” of parliament, he said.
Koul Panha, director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said Sunday that the draft law puts further limits on people’s freedoms.
“The draft law gives power to the authorities as decision makers,” he said. The concept of a freedom park is also limiting, he said, as people should feel free to protest at the location of their choosing.