The new law, promulgated on 11 March, could subject violators to prison for up to 20 years and fine them up to 20 million riels ($5,000). It also grants the Government power to ban or restrict any gathering or demonstration, according to a news release issued by the rights experts.
“We are concerned that the administrative and penal measures, including excessive prison sentences and fines provided in the law, appear to be disproportionate and unwarranted. All measures taken to fight the pandemic, including possible punishments, should be necessary and proportionate and not be used excessively,” the experts said.
They also stressed that restrictions on fundamental freedoms on public health grounds “must not breach rights and freedoms guaranteed by international human rights law, and they must be proportionate, non-discriminatory, time-bound and purpose limited”.